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Mental Health Benefits

Coverage for treatment of certain mental health conditions. Available as soon as you apply for a VAC disability benefit.

About this initiative

Mental Health Benefits provides coverage for the treatment of certain mental health disorders related to anxiety, depression or trauma-and-stressor-related. It is available as soon as you apply for Disability Benefits for one of these mental health conditions.

You will receive mental health coverage while your Disability Benefits application is processed. We will cover certain mental health treatments, including prescription drugs, and treatment by a mental health professional, whether you meet them in-person or online.

Coverage continues for two years from the date we receive your completed Disability Benefits application or until you receive a favourable Disability Benefits decision. You will be covered as part of the Treatment Benefits program for as long as you need if you receive a favourable decision.


Do you qualify?

To qualify for the Mental Health Benefits initiative, you must be:

  • A former member of the Canadian Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve),

or

  • A still-serving Reserve Force member Class A or Class B (less than 180 days) not covered by the CAF healthcare plan,

and

  • You have submitted a Disability Benefits application for one of the following mental health conditions:
    • Anxiety disorders;
    • Depressive disorders;
    • Trauma-and-stressor-related disorders

If you are a serving CAF member, you 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.

You will be eligible for Mental Health Benefits the day after your release, as long as it is on or after 1 April 2022, and you have applied for Disability Benefits and have not received a decision.

Q. How is eligibility determined?

Since October 2022, an automated system determines Mental Health Benefits eligibility using information provided in your Disability Benefits application. The system will search for your address and VAC file number if:

  • you apply for Disability Benefits as it relates to a mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or trauma-and-stressor-related disorder;
  • have served with the Canadian Armed Forces; and,
  • sign to confirm the information you provided is true.

If all the information is present, the system will automatically make you eligible for Mental Health Benefits the same day you apply for Disability Benefits for certain mental health conditions.

Once the system determines you are eligible, it will send you a Mental Health Benefits eligibility determination letter. Medavie Blue Cross will then send you a health card (if you do not already have one), and begin to process your mental health claims.

Q. Are family members eligible for this coverage?

Family members cannot apply for Mental Health Benefits because they do not qualify for Disability Benefits through VAC; however, if your health professional believes that mental health treatment for one or more of your family members will achieve positive health outcomes for you, then family members may qualify for coverage, too.


How to apply

There is no application for this initiative.

You become eligible for coverage on the date we receive your Disability Benefit application. Learn more about applying for Disability Benefits.


Additional information

The Mental Health Benefits initiative does not impact your eligibility for other VAC benefits, services or programs.

Mental health related Prescription Drugs (POC 10) and Related Health Services (POC 12) are eligible for coverage. Some Medical Services (POC 6) benefits could be covered if you live outside Canada, such as:

  • Psychiatrist;
  • Physician;
  • Nurse practitioner.

Covered treatments, services, and prescription drugs are subject to the same approvals, frequency, and financial limits as under the existing Treatment Benefits program.

Note: The following benefits are NOT included in this coverage:

  • Cannabis for Medical Purposes;
  • Health Related Travel (HRT).

Reimbursement

You can submit requests for reimbursement within 18 months from the date you received the treatment benefit or service. Where the Department has not made a decision on your Disability Benefits application, the 18 months may be extended. You can retain receipts for additional costs you paid out-of-pocket during your eligibility period. They may be reimbursed if a favourable decision on your Disability Benefits application is made.

To receive reimbursement, you will need to submit your proof of payment (original receipt or invoice) that shows:

  • the date you received the benefit or service;
  • the name of the benefit or service;
  • the amount you paid; and,
  • the name and address of the provider.

The service provider must be:

  • licensed or certified by your province or territory; or,
  • where no provincial or territorial regulations exist, they must meet requirements set by VAC.

Medavie Blue Cross

Our treatment benefits and services are covered through our provider, Medavie Blue Cross.

If you do not already have one, a Medavie Blue Cross card will be sent to you by mail within 10 days of your Mental Health Benefits eligibility notification. This occurs after your Disability Benefits application has been submitted.

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.

VAC Assistance Service

Many provinces and territories across Canada are experiencing longer than average wait times to schedule medical and mental health appointments. If you need to speak to someone right now, the VAC Assistance Service can be accessed 24/7 for mental health support. This service is available to all Veterans and their families, even if they have not applied for VAC benefits or services.


Frequently asked questions

Q1. Can I stay with my current health professional(s)?

Yes. You can stay with your current health professional while accessing services through Mental Health Benefits, and also if you become eligible for coverage under the Treatment Benefits program.

Q2. I just received my Medavie Blue Cross card, can I use it outside of Canada?

No, this card can only be used in Canada for direct billing purposes.

Q3. Will I need pre-authorization before getting mental health services via Mental Health Benefits?

You need to get pre-authorization for the initial treatment of some services. Pre-authorization requests can be made by you or your provider. Check the Benefits grid to determine when you need to make a pre-authorization request.

How to submit a pre-authorization request

Your requests can be submitted:

  • via My VAC Account,
  • by fax (1-418-566-6165), or
  • by mail, to:

    Veterans Affairs Canada
    PO Box 6000
    Matane, QC, Canada
    G4W 0E4

Your request will be directed to Medavie Blue Cross, and you can expect it to be processed within six weeks.

Pre-authorization requests submitted by your health care provider:

Your health care provider can submit requests for pre-authorization by fax or by mail (using the same contact information provided above). Providers cannot make requests for pre-authorization through My VAC Account.

Note: If you travel or move outside of Canada after your benefits are already approved by VAC, you will still be eligible until you have reached the maximum number of visits according to the Benefits grid. You will need to request an extension of treatment if more sessions are required. Requests for extension can be made at any time. Your provider will need to write a report explaining why additional services are required.

View more frequently asked questions.

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