Many group health insurers will reimburse the services of Registered Social Workers if the employer requests it.
If your health insurance plan does not cover social work services, contact your union, human resources department, board, or manager to ask if this can be changed. Let them know that coverage for social work services and counselling makes good business sense as it ensures a healthier workforce. Including social work services in benefit plans increases an organization’s capacity to meet the needs of employees and their families; the effort or cost required is usually very low, and the potential rewards are high.
Use this letter template to contact a decision-maker at your organization. Add the name of the person you’re sending it to, as well as your signature at the end, and make any other changes you need to.
The Canadian Association of Social Workers also offers a pamphlet that you can use to inform employers about the potential benefits of coverage for social work services.
Social media messages
These messages are short enough for Twitter, and you can use them anywhere. Just copy and paste.
- Nova Scotians need and deserve timely access to mental health care services. Social workers in private practice are uniquely placed to help people where they are and when they need it, right across the province. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Many employers that offer benefit plans are still missing out on a way to support the well-being of their employees at little or no additional cost. Coverage for social work counselling and therapy mixes good health practice with good business sense. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Timely access to professional mental health services is key for sustaining and retaining a healthy workforce. Healthy workplaces benefit everyone: employers, employees and their families, and our wider communities. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Hundreds of social workers in NS have gone through additional screening to ensure they hold core clinical competence and become Private Practitioners. They provide high-quality counselling and therapy in communities across the province. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Social workers who practice with a clinical focus can be found across Nova Scotia. Many offer services remotely, using phone and video calls. Ensuring their services makes mental health care more accessible for rural Nova Scotians. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Social work addresses clients’ needs in the context of their environments rather than pathologizing them individually. Private Practitioners can also provide evidence-based therapies, supporting people to enhance their mental health. https://bit.ly/coverSW
- Access to public mental health services is not timely; waiting lists are long. Ask your employer to help bridge the gap by adding social work services to your insurance plan. https://bit.ly/coverSW
You can also share these images online (click one to enlarge the image):
The case for expanding access to social work
The impact of mental health on Canadian society is staggering, affecting an estimated one in five Canadians and costing the economy at least $50 billion a year. The amount of time spent in hospital in 2018 for mental health disorders was the equivalent of taking 340 people out of Nova Scotia society, for a full year.
Timely access to needed mental health services is a critical issue facing Nova Scotians. Numerous barriers to service access include: stigma; poverty; lack of integration between mental health and health services; shortage of mental health professionals; and regional disparities. This affects people’s ability to get support.
Although 1 in 5 Nova Scotians will experience a mental health issue only about 30 percent seek help. Some people may not know how their mental health is impacting them and may not know that help is available. Some may not be able to access mental health support because of barriers like cost, language and transportation.
Others don’t seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health. They feel embarrassed or ashamed. They worry that they will be judged and misunderstood. They worry about being discriminated against.
It is important to know that no one is alone, there are services that can help. And the earlier someone gets help, the less chance there is that the problem will come back or get worse.
Although more must be done to ensure universal, timely access to mental health services, in the short-term service providers, employees, unions, and employers all must work together to ensure that access to mental health services is improved.
Part of this solution must involve expanding coverage through private insurance plans while we continue to advocate for universal coverage.
Including social work in benefit plans increases the number of eligible mental health providers that plan members can access. There are more than 260 Registered Social Workers in private practice in Nova Scotia, and half of them practice outside Halifax. Many of these private practitioners offer skilled professional counselling for personal, family, and work-related issues. These services are GST/HST exempt, and can be claimed as a medical expense.
Expanding provider choice can be especially vital in rural areas where other mental health professionals might not be unavailable, or when seeking a service provider with a specific specialization (e.g. culturally-sensitive, 2SLGBTQ-informed, language fluency).
Getting the right care to people where they are and when they need it contributes to the collective well-being of the entire community.
NSCSW has set the recommended fee for private practice masters-level and PhD social workers registered with the College at a minimum rate of $160.00 per session.
Individual practitioners will always retain the autonomy to set and adjust their fees. The recommended rate is provided as a guideline to inform clients of what they can expect to pay for social work services in a private practice setting. This rate is also set to assist third‐party payers (i.e insurers, government, and private business) so they can make informed decisions when adjusting their reimbursement rates for their services.
This recommended fee is based on a comparison of other mental health professionals in Nova Scotia providing counselling and mental health services. Please note that there may be fee variations taking into consideration: geographical location, practice specialization, nature of the service provided and number of people involved in each session. Fees for specialized services may be higher than the recommended rate.