I get the same question, over and over, from spouses looking for support.
Sometimes it’s just for themselves because life can kick your ass sometimes.
Occasionally it’s because there’s an issue with the member but he or she isn’t ready to seek help yet, so the spouse is looking for help on their own.
It could be for kids. For mental health issues. For adjustment issues. For relationship help or anger management or parenting support.
Depression (Including PPD).
Life is hard and support is out there.
Here’s a non-comprehensive list of ways Canadian Forces family members can seek help (with or without the member) with they need it.
Always remember: seeking help is never a sign of weakness. It is the strongest decision you can make.
For short term counselling/crisis management for any variety of concerns:
The Member Assistance Program.
This free 24/7 phone line offers support on the phone as well as referral to local civilian counsellors in your area for free therapy services up to 8 sessions with the option of extension and long term referral. While you will need to give a service number for assurance of military family status, this program operates at arms length from the Canadian Forces and does not report to any chain of command. It has 0 impact on the member’s career.
Member Assistance Program Information
Phone 24/7/365: 1-800-268-7708 | (Teletypewriter) 1-800-567-5803
Example of issues to bring to this table:
Any other need for individual or couple counselling
For on phone counselling as well as information and referral to local services and benefits:
The Family Information Line
The FIL is run by Canadian Forces Moral and Welfare Services. It is free, 24/7 and staffed by trained counsellors. They offer support, information and referrals. You also have the option of emailing them questions! This program does not report individual information to the Canadian Forces and has no impact on a member’s career.
Examples of issues to bring to the table:
Questions about military family services in your area.
Special Needs support
Any other issues you are unsure of
For short term counselling and referral:
Your Local MFRC
Your local Military Family Resource Centre has a Social Worker or will refer to one that you can see free of charge to help with any military or non-military related concern. Accessing the MFRC Social Worker will not be reported to your spouse or his or her chain of command and remains entire separate from the military itself.
Examples of some issues to bring to this table:
Special Needs support
Questions on military support services available to you.
For crisis support, referral and questions:
Your Member’s Padre
The military employs Padre’s who are a resource to both the member and the families. Especially if the member is deployed, a Padre is an excellent first step in seeking crisis support, especially if you need an intervention, may need the member home or are concerned about your member’s well-being. Padres are military members themselves but maintain confidentiality in most instances. It’s always best to ask any practitioner the limitations of their confidentiality.
Example of some issues to bring to this table:
Immediate need to contact deployed member
Issues you’d like to bring to the military regarding your spouse or family situation.
If you don’t know how to access a specific Padre, you can call your local base operator and ask for the Duty Padre.
For longer term /more complex support or for those wishing non-military connected services:
Sun Life Benefits
Military family members included on the Sun Life Benefits of the member have access to psychological services under their healthcare plan.
Up to $2000 per person per calendar year can be claimed, up to 80%.
For those living remotely, you may have access to a Social Worker for psych services if there are no psychologists available in your area.
You do need a prescription from your physician to claim these services and there may be upfront costs that will need to be submitted for reimbursement.
Support specific for those families dealing with an Operational Service Injury (including both visible and invisible injuries):
Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) Peer Support
This program for the families affected by OSIs is run by Canadian Forces Moral and Welfare.
For Veteran Families
The VAC Assistance Service
Confidential service, to help all Veterans and their families as well as primary caregivers who have personal concerns that affect their well-being. The service is available to you free of charge and staffed by mental health professionals.
Phone 24/7/365: 1-800-268-7708
The Royal Canadian Legion
The Legion’s Service Officer Network branches all across Canada and offer a connection to assist Veterans and their families. Veterans and their families do not need to be Legion members to get help from a Service Officer.
Other agencies that offer support and service to the military and veteran communities:
VETs Canada Reaching out to homeless and at risk veterans.
CanPraxis Providing no cost equine therapy to veterans, members and first responders and their spouses.
Military Minds Online Peer Support for military related PTSD
Veterans Transition Network Offering PTSD support, courses, career help and peer support to military veterans.
COPE Canada With programs designed to help military and veteran families dealing with PTSD.
TEMA Trust Peer support and mental health referral line 1-888-288-8036
Non-military specific mental health and crisis support services:
Canadian Mental Health Association Offering counselling and support for individuals struggling with mental illness.
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention Has a listing of crisis lines and resources by province.
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction: Includes a listing of addiction support lines by province.