Language selection


Search veterans.gc.ca

Mental Health Benefits FAQ

Q1. What is the Mental Health Benefits initiative?

The Mental Health Benefits initiative provides immediate coverage to Veterans for treatment of certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and trauma-and-stressor-related disorders.

The goal is to support Veterans’ mental health while their disability benefits application is being processed. Coverage lasts for two years from the date we receive a disability benefits application or until a Veteran receives a favourable disability benefits decision.

Q2. Who is eligible for Mental Health Benefits?

The following groups are eligible for Mental Health Benefits if they have submitted a disability benefits application for one of the eligible mental health conditions or are awaiting a decision:

  • Veterans (including those living outside of Canada)
  • still-serving Reserve Force members on Class A or Class B (180 days or less) service who are not covered by the CAF healthcare plan.

*Please note that eligible Reserve Force members include members of the Supplementary Reserve, the Primary Reserve, the Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS) and the Canadian Rangers.

New applications for a disability benefit (either as a pensioned condition under the Pension Act or pain and suffering compensation under the Veterans Well-being Act) for anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and trauma-and-stressor-related disorders also qualify for Mental Health Benefits.

Current and former RCMP members are not eligible for Mental Health Benefits. However, RCMP members with CAF service may be eligible if their application relates to a mental health condition that arose during or was aggravated by their CAF service.

Q3. I am a serving member of the CAF, do I qualify?

Serving CAF members receive mental health coverage through the CAF health plan. As such, you’re not able to receive Mental Health Benefits, unless you are a Reservist on Class A or Class B under 180 days.

If you apply for disability benefits but don’t have a decision before your release from the CAF, you will be eligible for Mental Health Benefits the day after you release.

Q4. Are family members eligible for Mental Health Benefits coverage?

Family members are not eligible to apply directly for Mental Health Benefits. If a client is receiving Mental Health Benefits coverage and their mental health professional believes that involving family members in treatment will achieve positive health outcomes for the client, family members may qualify for mental health services.

Q5. How do I apply for Mental Health Benefits?

You don’t need to apply for Mental Health Benefits. You will be eligible on the date we receive your disability benefit application or the day following your CAF release, whichever is later. This includes applications submitted via My VAC Account, paper applications or applications submitted through The Royal Canadian Legion.

Q6. I applied for a disability benefit before 1 April 2022. Do I qualify? How does that work?

If you are a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and submitted a disability benefits application for an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder and/or trauma-and-stressor-related disorder before 1 April 2022 – and have not yet received a decision on your application – you are eligible for Mental Health Benefits for 2 years starting 1 April 2022.

If you received a disability benefit decision before 1 April 2022, you may be able to access mental health services through the Treatment Benefits program.

Q7. Once a disability benefit decision is made, what happens to my Mental Health Benefits coverage?

Once a decision is made, one of the two following scenarios will happen:

  • Favourable decision: Your coverage will transfer to our Treatment Benefits program without any interruption and will continue for as long as you need it.
  • Unfavourable decision: Your Mental Health Benefits coverage will stay active until the end of your 2 year eligibility period.

Q8. Will eligibility for Mental Health Benefits impact my other VAC benefits and services?

No. Mental Health Benefits does not impact your eligibility for other VAC benefits, services or programs.

Q9. How do I access services covered by Mental Health Benefits?

If you already have a Medavie Blue Cross health card, you can start using it to access mental health services after qualifying for Mental Health Benefits. You will not need a new Medavie card.

Q10. How do I get a Medavie Blue Cross health card?

If you do not have a Medavie Blue Cross health card, one will be sent to you by mail within 10 days of your Mental Health Benefits eligibility notification.

  • If you are a still-serving CAF member, you will typically receive your VAC Medavie Blue Cross health card within 10 days of the CAF’s notification to Medavie Blue Cross that you have released and no longer have CAF health coverage.

If you already have a Medavie Blue Cross health card, you can start using it to access mental health services after we notify you that you qualify for Mental Health Benefits. You will not need a new Medavie card.

Q11. How do I claim my Mental Health Benefits expenses?

If your service provider is registered with Medavie Blue Cross, use your Medavie health card so that the provider can bill VAC/Medavie Blue Cross directly to prevent you from paying out of pocket.

Find registered providers in your area by contacting us or through your Medavie Blue Cross account.

If your service provider is not registered with Medavie Blue Cross, you may need to pay for the services and then apply for reimbursement from VAC/Medavie Blue Cross. For more information on how to apply for claim reimbursements, visit our Treatment Benefits page.

Please note: Some treatments or services may need pre-authorization. To find out if pre-authorization is needed, your service provider can contact us or call Medavie at 1-866-811-6060. Most services will only need pre-authorization once.

Q12. What happens if I re-enroll as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces while receiving Mental Health Benefits coverage?

If you re-enroll as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, you will no longer have Mental Health Benefits coverage. This does not apply to Reserve Force members Class A or Class B (less than 180 days) because these groups do not have health coverage from the CAF.

Q13. What happens to my Mental Health Benefits coverage if I am a Reservist who accepts Class 'C' or Class 'B' service for more than 180 days?

Your Mental Health Benefits coverage stops once you become a full-time serving member of the CAF, as you will receive health coverage from them. Class ‘C’ and Class ‘B’ service for more than 180 days are covered by the CAF health plan.

Q14. My mental health has been affected by a physical service-related injury for which I’m awaiting a decision (or plan to apply). Am I eligible for coverage?

Mental Health Benefits is only available to Veterans who apply for a disability benefit for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders, or trauma-and-stressor-related disorders.

However, we may be able to offer your other forms of assistance. Consider contacting the VAC Assistance Service: Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right now, or use the online chat to set up an appointment. The VAC Assistance Service is confidential, free, and available 24/7 to Veterans, former RCMP members, their family members, and caregivers.

Q15. What happens if I request a review or appeal of the benefits or services covered under Mental Health Benefits?

The approach to reviews for benefits and services under Mental Health Benefits will be the same as that used for services or benefits denied under the Treatment Benefits Program.

Program participants can request up to 2 levels of review if they are dissatisfied with any decision made under Mental Health Benefits.

Information on how to request a review is included in the Explanation of Benefits received from Medavie Blue Cross if a claim is denied.

Q16. I now have coverage through Mental Health Benefits. Can I get in to see a mental health professional now?

Your coverage allows VAC to pay for mental health services, either in person or virtually, from a health professional of your choice as soon as you’re eligible.

Note: Many provinces and territories across Canada are experiencing longer than average wait times to schedule mental health appointments. The VAC Assistance Service can be accessed 24/7 for mental health counselling support in case health professionals within your community are not immediately available. This service is available to all Veterans and their families, even if they have not applied for VAC benefits or services

Q17. Is there a list of eligible mental health conditions considered for coverage?

Mental health conditions eligible for coverage under Mental Health Benefits fall under three groups:

  1. Anxiety Disorders
  2. Depressive Disorders
  3. Trauma and stressor related disorders

Examples of mental health conditions in these groups include:

  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Dysthymia and Major Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Your condition does not need to be specifically identified on the application form. Please include a list of your symptoms.

Q18. What types of evaluations and treatments are eligible for Mental Health Benefits coverage?

Prescription Drugs (POC 10) and Related Health Services (POC 12) that relate to mental health are eligible for coverage under Mental Health Benefits. Some Medical Services (POC 6) benefits may also be covered if you are living outside of Canada.

Treatment, services and prescription drugs covered under Mental Health Benefits are subject to the same approvals, frequency and financial limits as the Treatment Benefits Program.

Evaluations and treatments eligible for Mental Health Benefits coverage
Medical Services (POC 6) Outside Canada: if an eligible treatment is not covered by your country/jurisdiction of residence, VAC will cover treatment by approved POC 6 health professionals such as:
  • psychiatrists
  • physicians
  • nurse practitioners
Prescription Drugs (POC 10) Related prescription drugs are covered if prescribed by an authorized physician or other health professional in the province/territory or country/jurisdiction where they are provided.
Related Health Services (POC 12) Mental Health Benefits provides for certain services (e.g., treatments and examinations) related to approved health professionals, including:
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • *Clinical Care Managers
*Clinical Care Managers can include Nurses, Psychoeducators, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Social Workers.

Mental Health Benefits recipients must use coverage from their provincial/territorial plan first, or coverage available to them from the CAF. VAC may cover any extra costs not already covered by these plans (for example, as a “top up” from other insurance coverage).

Note: Many provinces and territories across Canada are experiencing longer than average wait times to schedule mental health appointments. The VAC Assistance Service may be a useful resource when access to mental health counselling and treatment by health professionals are not immediately available. This service is available to all Veterans and their families, even if they have not applied for VAC benefits or services. The service is confidential, and available 24/7.

If you are experiencing a crisis and need immediate assistance please call 911.

Date modified: