Get help with mental health in the CAF
The first step to getting help for a mental health issue is to contact your local CAF medical clinic. You will receive immediate help or you will be referred to the proper health service program by a medical doctor. Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have daily access to a general duty medical officer at the base medical clinic.
Getting immediate help
All primary care physicians have been trained in suicide assessment, management and prevention. Anyone assessed as at risk for suicide is seen immediately by a physician.
Other services on base medical clinics available on a walk-in basis include:
- crisis services including seeing a physician, social worker or mental health nurse
- psychosocial services
You do not need an appointment to be seen on a walk-in basis. All psychosocial services clinicians and all mental health clinicians have training and expertise in assessing, managing and preventing suicide.
For immediate after-hours care contact your local hospital emergency department or call 911.
The Member Assistance Program is also available to provide telephone and face-to-face counselling to you as a CAF member, and your family.
Wait times for CAF mental health care
The wait times you can expect for some of the CAF’s mental health services are:
- 1 hour for walk-in or crisis assessments at a base clinic
- 2 weeks for a psychosocial assessment
- 4 weeks for a general mental health assessment and Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centre assessments
The CAF will work with you to make sure you receive proper and necessary medical support while waiting for your assessment appointment. These may include more frequent appointments, seeing another clinician with the primary care team or psychosocial services.
The CAF also has the flexibility to refer patients to pre-screened and pre-approved mental health clinicians in the community.
It’s important for supervisors to create a workplace that encourages you to come forward and access mental health services. Some CAF members may be hesitant to get help with the belief that their commanding officer can access their medical file.
It is important to know that CAF members' medical information is private and only those involved in providing care have access to it. Commanding officers have a right to know your prognosis as well as any medical limitations which may affect work performance, however the nature or treatment of your injury or illness is confidential.
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