Frequently Asked Questions about Mental Health
1. I am worried about my daughter/son, but I don’t know if their behavior is just part of growing up or if s/he might be struggling with a more serious issue and needs professional help.
Child and youth behavior is one of the ways in which children and youth tell us what they are thinking, feeling or needing. Sometimes their behaviors, feelings or thoughts are persistent and worrisome and get in the way of school success, making friends and getting along with others.
If you are not sure if you should be concerned, you can begin by talking to your family doctor to make sure that there isn’t an issue with their physical well being or development. You can also talk about your worries with your child’s teacher or someone who knows your child well. These people may have a perspective that is helpful to understanding your child’s needs.
You can also call a Children’s Mental Health Centre close to your home or child’s school for a consultation. To find a children’s mental health centre close to you, please go to the Children’s Mental Health Ontario website or call (416) 921-2109.
The ECC is an accredited Children’s Mental Health Centre in West Toronto. In addition to other child and youth mental health and autism services, we offer Walk In Counselling services every Wednesday between 12:30 and 8:00 pm. The ECC Walk In Clinic is an effective and accessible service where you can explore your concerns with a skilled professional. No appointment is necessary.
2. I am 16 and I keep getting into trouble. I want help, but do I have to get my parent’s permission to get counselling?
No, you don’t need your parent’s permission to get counselling. A child or youth over the age of 11 can ask for counselling services without parental permission. The counsellor may talk with you about how to get the support you need.
3. My child “loses it” when s/he is upset. Can you help with this?
There are lots of different reasons why a child may “lose it” and cannot stop his/her behavior or be reasoned with. The ECC staff are trained professionals who provide consultation and counselling for children, youth and their families who are looking for help with struggles or challenges such as not being able to control their anger, fear or worries. It is our belief that every child will do well if they can. We will work with you and your child to understand what may be contributing to his behavior, help your child develop the skills they need to be able to cope better, and work with you to consider alternative approaches.
4. My child goes from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds. Is this normal?
Every child and youth is unique and there are varying reasons for this kind of response. Some children have difficulty just slowing down and making transition while others have real difficulty with attention and activity. The counsellor will meet with your child and members of the family to assess this response prior to making a recommendation for service and counselling. While focusing on strengths and services recommended, The ECC staff will involve you in coming up with a service plan that will help you and your child.
5. My child does not talk to their teacher or classmates, but he talks when at home. Can you help with this?
Yes, The ECC staff have experience working with children who struggle with communication. There are a number of possible reasons why a child may not talk at school or to others but do so at home. Some struggle with anxiety and worry, while others may have speech and language difficulties. The ECC staff will work with you and your child to assess why your child is not speaking in some environments. The counsellor may recommend the services of other professionals to help in the assessment. Once there is an understanding of your child’s needs or challenges, then the counsellor will recommend a plan and strategies to help your child communicate in all environments.
6. I can’t take my child out in public because she misbehaves whenever we go out. I am told by my child’s teacher that my child is disrespectful at school, but I don’t have the same problem at home.
We hear these concerns frequently from parents. The ECC works with parents and children to get an understanding of why the child may have a problem in one environment but not another. Some children have trouble with transition and change, get easily distracted or may have worries that make it difficult to behave well. The ECC will certainly work with you and your child to figure out why your child behaves this way and what might be an effective strategy to improve their self control and manage the transitions between home, day care, school or other public places.
7. My child has speech and language delays, can you help?
While The ECC does not directly offer Speech Therapy, please give us a call so that we can connect you to the right resource.
8. My child is having serious difficulties in school. Her teachers have tried everything and I keep getting calls from the school. I am afraid she will not pass her grade. Do you offer any services that can help my child?
The ECC offers an intensive specialized Day School Milieu Treatment program for children between the ages of 4-13 whose mental health issues interfere with their ability to learn and be successful in school. The program is offered in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Each class has a maximum of six children and is staffed by a trained ECC Child and Youth Worker and a TDSB teacher. Referrals for this program are made by calling The ECC Intake Worker.
9. Will I or my family be included in my child’s counselling?
Experience and research in child and youth mental health tells us that children and youth are best helped when their family or significant others are involved and take part in the counselling process. The counsellor will work in collaboration with you, your child and/or family to understand the issues and develop a plan for service with goals that make sense for your child and family.
If you are a youth seeking counselling on your own, the counsellor will talk to you about the advantages or disadvantages of including family members. You have the right to decide who will participate in your counselling. The exception to this may be if there is risk of harm.
10. I am not sure how I feel about my child or family being in counselling.
There are a variety of reasons that people are unsure about seeking counselling. Some people worry that they will be judged, struggle with sharing personal information or feel that they should be able to solve their problems on their own.
Problems and challenges are a normal part of life and many problems can be solved without the help of a professional. When there is a mental health problem, it often helps to get an objective perspective and receive skilled support. Like many physical conditions, mental health issues are very treatable especially if addressed early. Our services are private and confidential except under exceptional circumstances (abuse or harm).
The ECC staff will help you to feel comfortable. Our clients are included in all service plan decisions. Please feel free to ask questions if there are things that you do not understand or are not sure about.
11. Does my child need a referral from a doctor to participate in a mental health service?
The ECC is a community based accredited Children’s Mental Health Centre. The ECC is not a medical facility and a doctor’s referral is not required. In order to make a referral, a legal guardian is required to initiate a service request for a child under the age of 11. A child or youth over the age of 11 may request service on their own without parental authorization.
12. Is there a long wait time for service?
The waiting time for active service depend is dependent on the kind of service you are seeking, whether you will be receiving brief or longer term counselling as well as your availability. Generally, there is a shorter waiting period for day time appointments. Once you have completed the Intake process, a Service Coordinator will be assigned to you. Your Service Coordinator will keep in contact with you and keep you informed about how long you may need to wait until regular ongoing services are available.
You also have the option of using our Walk-In Counselling Clinic. The Walk-In Counselling Clinic is open every Wednesday from 12:30 pm - 8:00 pm.
13. Is there a fee for service?
The ECC is a non-profit organization. There is no fee for service. The ECC relies on the support of The Ministry of Child and Youth Services, The City of Toronto and private donations.