As an international student in one of the many Canadian universities, you may at some point find yourself in need of help beyond your academic life. If you have a health or legal issue, read on to learn more about help for international students in Canada.
The emergency services number in Canada is 9-1-1. If you need emergency police, ambulance, or fire response services, this is the number to call.
Help for international students: explore your university or college’s resources
Most Canadian universities and colleges are familiar with welcoming international students, and offer a range of resources to support them. These resources can vary widely, so make sure to take a look at what’s on offer when you’re selecting which university or college you wish to attend– these services may be as important to your wellbeing and success as your study program. Canadian universities and colleges may offer services such as:
- Health centres
- Mental health support,
- Study skills support and English/French as a Second Language (ESL/FRSL) resources
- Emergency loans
- Legal aid
- Immigration advice
- Travel assistance
- Much more . . .
Canadian universities and colleges often provide international students on the range of options they offer via their. It’s also important to check out the student union or student association services. These are often run by students, for students. The student union can be a fast and efficient way to get your problem solved, as it can be easier to talk to someone there than trying to go through the administration of the university or college. Student unions offer services to all students and are usually funded by your fees, so there’s no reason not to take advantage.
Help for international students: Health
Canadian universities or colleges will likely have their own health services centre for situations such as prescriptions, routine check-ups, or non-emergency health issues. You should also be able to access local health services such as clinics and hospitals. Healthcare in Canada is managed by the provinces, and international students’ access to health services can vary accordingly. As an international student in one of the many Canadian universities or colleges, it is usually required that you obtain health insurance, as you (and any accompanying family members) may not be covered under the provincial plan – again, this varies by province.
Canadian universities or colleges may charge their international students for coverage unless you can show you already have health insurance. Or, your Canadian university or college may have an agreement with a third-party provider to offer insurance for international students.
Here is a list of health resources by province, tailored to international students where possible. However, your university or college website should have comprehensive information that is particularly relevant to students, so check there as well.
- British Columbia
- Manitoba (Note: as of September 1 2018, international students in Manitoba with a study permit are no longer covered by the provincial health plan)
- New Brunswick
- Northwest Territories
- Prince Edward Island (Note: information on this subject could not be found on the provincial government website, but the University of Prince Edward Island charges a fee for international students’ health insurance, unless you can show you have insurance already)
- Yukon (Note: information on this subject could not be found on the provincial government website, but international students need to obtain private health insurance)
Help for international students: Mental health
Health services on university and college campuses usually also comprise mental health resources, which may include consultations and referrals.
It is becoming increasingly acknowledged in Canada that mental health is an important aspect of overall wellbeing, and for students in particular this is taken seriously. Attending university or college can be stressful, as you manage your studies at the same time as being away from home, potentially for the first time. It is as important to prioritize your mental health as your physical health. Consider your campus health centre as your first stop for help with any anxiety or stress you may feel is negatively affecting your well-being, as they will be able offer help specific to your situation. You have a right to anonymity when seeking assistance or treatment.
Here is a list of resources if you’re concerned about your own well-being or that of a friend or family member, or if you just want someone to talk to.
If you are in need of immediate assistance, go to your nearest hospital or call 9-1-1. Canadian hospitals and emergency response teams take mental health issues as seriously as physical health.
The Canadian Mental Health Association provides detailed information and links to further resources on a number of issues including anxiety, disordered eating, anger management, and more.
Transitions is a resource from teenmentalhealth.org, developed by mental health professionals and charities and specifically aimed at first-year university and college students. It’s a hefty ebook, but it’s packed with useful tips on managing studies, work-life balance, mental health, and more during a time of intense transition. If you’re worried about any aspect of your future in higher education, chances are you’ll find some answers in this key resource, which offers help for international students in Canada. And if you feel comfortable and confident in your upcoming life change, you might still find some helpful tips to help you keep making the most of your new opportunities.
The Jed Foundation provides targeted resources and support to teens and young adults in higher education, including a hotline if you need someone to talk to.
Crisis Services Canada provides a 24/7 hotline for anyone thinking about or affected by suicide.
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides information, resources, and a helpline for people with or worried about disordered eating and weight preoccupation.