I'm 32, unemployed, in chronic pain, and bipolar. There are all kinds of other neuroses that deserve some care.

Spring/summer of last year, I went to see my family doctor about my mental health in particular. She sent out a referral, Alberta's Access Mental Health got a hold of me, and I was put in an outpatient program through the city's new hospital. Things progressed, and I got my diagnosis, some meds, some counselling, and discharged because I wasn't in crisis and also because I was obviously not that bad off because I could paint my nails and wear a face full of make up and do my hair. This was six months ago.

My case worker referred me to a counselling program downtown. I balked and dragged my feet and things have been all over the place and icky and just... I don't know. I can't put it in words. I don't know how to put it in words. But at any rate, it wasn't until this past weekend that I signed up for the Counselling Centre.

Now, my case worker had printed out their information, which is still on their website, and it states:

Counselling fees are determined on a sliding fee scale, according to annual family income and ability to pay. There are no financial barriers to counselling services provided by the Centre.

So, no, there didn't seem to be any reason for me not to go, except for me sabotaging myself constantly. My case worker had said that if I could only pay a few dollars every time I showed up, they'd only charge me a few dollars.


I have health insurance—remember that chronic pain thing? We needed some reimbursement for physio, and my prescriptions, and what if something worse happened to me, and dental care, and optical care. So when I signed up, I stated what my insurance would cover ($60/visit up to $600/year).

When I got the call today, the psychologist who I spoke to talked about my insurance, and I was like, "yup" and confirmed for me that they do not direct bill, and this is the total fee. I explained that I'm unemployed. My forms stated that my income is nothing and that I am unemployed. I didn't really fight much, I didn't quote the website back at her, but this doesn't seem very "sliding fee scale" to me. There was just nothing. They are a "private" organisation, and therefore they have to charge me this amount, and if I can't pay, they can't see me. I can call the distress line if I'm in distress.

But their website says—!


In the immortal words of Mutant Enemy: "Grr. Argh."