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How to Cope While Waiting for Services

Waiting for an appointment with a mental health care professional is a frustrating part of the process. Here are tips about coping while you wait.

Seek out supportive programs in the community. Your local mental health agency might have drop in programs/counselling you can attend. Google "waitlist support in (your city)".

It can be helpful to track your mood & behaviours as you wait for services. It takes some pressure off you to remember several weeks back & gives your service provider an accurate picture of what your mental health has been.

As your wait for treatment, you may want to consider creating a safety plan with someone you trust. Let them know what can help you stay safe. A great resource is our free Be Safe App. Download it today!

Know that there is always someone you can talk to, try calling a crisis line. There will be a trained person on the other end who is there to support you, provide you with helpful coping tools and possibly provide helpful referrals.

Look into peer support groups in your community. These programs can help you feel less alone and you might learn something new.

If you are in school and will need to take time off for treatment, use this time to let your school know and make a plan for how you will catch up when you come back.

What is your favourite meditation app? There are many out there that can help give you some calm and distract you from what you're dealing with day to day.

Get online - there are so many supportive groups and websites that can help you feel a little less alone. Try The Mighty, TheLatestKate and of course mindyourmind!

Make plans! Are you feeling preoccupied by the uncertainty of the future? Take control and write down your goals and hopes for the future. This will set you up well for your first counselling session.

Give your brain a break and slow down your thinking through yoga and/or meditation. Try the Radically Loved podcast or Yoga with Adriene videos.

Sleep is so important for your mental health. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by getting rid of clutter and doing a quick tidy every night before you go to bed.

Try to get yourself on a consistent sleep schedule. Having a routine will help you structure your day and will increase the likelihood that you'll get enough sleep.

Keep your family and friends in the loop, let them know you are waiting for service and might need more support in the meantime.

You might not be able to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms and that's OK but try your best to minimize your reliance on these. Try to integrate one new strategy, be patient it takes time to change habits.

Keep a line of communication open with your future service provider, there is nothing wrong with calling periodically to check where you are on the waitlist.

Remember, all you need to do is try your best. Take things one day, hour or minute at a time.

Go outside, even if it is only sitting in the sun or going for a five minute walk. This can break up your day and help you refocus your energy for a moment.

Try your best to eat food that will nourish you. Check out this article for helpful suggestions that make cooking a little less daunting.

There are so many awesome mental health podcasts which can provide some great advice, support and tools. Check out Mentally Ch(ill), Mentally Well, Savvy Psychologist, The Struggle Bus and the mindyourmind podcast.

If your condition is getting worse call your future service provider and let them know. This information will help them serve you better when you begin to work together. They might be able to put you on the cancellation list (if they have one).

If you have a family doctor keep them up to date. They might be able to advocate for you to get faster access to mental health services.

Use this extra time to prepare for your first appointment. Make a list of what you would like to talk to your service provider about and start thinking about what your goals are.

Do your research! Are there other agencies in your area that do similar things? Sign up at that agency as well in hopes that their waitlist is shorter. Let both agencies know you are doing this. If you access service take your name off other list.

You might be able to access service through your school or your parent/guardians employee assistance program. Explore these options by talking to your guidance counselor or parent/guardian.

If you don't mind spending money explore private practice options. Many private practice social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists and counselors have a sliding scale fee. This means their fee depends on your income.

Social media can make you feel worse. Make sure you curate a positive social media feed by following mental health advocates and other positive pages. Make sure to set limits so you don't scroll your whole day away.

Try your best to keep in touch with positive people in your life. Invite them over for low key activities. This will help you feel a little less isolated while you are waiting for services.

If your situation worsens and you feel like you are at risk of hurting yourself go to the emergency room.

If you're working and need to be off work during treatment, use this time to inform your boss and make a plan. If possible, this is a time to save some money to tide you over until you start work again.

If you are going to residential treatment and will be away from home tie up loose ends. Arrange for someone to look after your pet, let your roommate know and make sure the rent is covered, get someone to pick up your mail, etc.