Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists: Confused?

group health insurance

Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists are all important mental health providers, but many people are not clear on what the difference is between all three. Also, they might not be sure if their Benefits plan covers the services of all three types of professionals.  Some employers have expanded the list of mental health providers to include social workers, family therapists, clinical and marriage counselors. 

Mental health issues are complex, and individuals who require mental health care often need a team of caregivers who each play an important role in the recovery process.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, mental illness accounts for about 10% of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just 7% of the health care dollars. It recommends provincial governments should aim to increase their spending on mental health to 9% by 2022.  We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a spotlight to existing mental health issues for many Canadians, and the stresses and anxiety have led to more Canadians experiencing depression. Sadly, suicide rates have increased since the outbreak. Across Canada, half a million Canadians call in sick every week due to a mental-health concern.  This underscores how important it is for employees to have access to the mental health professionals to obtain the care they need.

So, what is the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialized in mental health. They are qualified and licensed to assess individuals, provide a diagnosis, and then treat them with medications and/or psychotherapy. Psychiatrists often collaborate with other mental health professionals to determine appropriate treatments.

Psychologists can also provide diagnosis and psychotherapy, but they are not licensed to prescribe medications. Psychotherapists can provide psychotherapy, but they are not allowed to provide a patient with a diagnosis or a prescription. They are trained to assess and treat patients but not to provide a diagnosis.

Services provided by all three types of mental health providers are usually covered under “Paramedical Services” and the total annual expenditure may be combined with other services.

Each plan for each company can differ as to which service or services they will cover. If you are an  employee who has any questions as to whether or not you will be covered for any of these services described above, call us at Health Risk Services before making a choice to go forward. We can help clear up any confusion and provide you with the clarity you need.

Call us at: Health Risk Services 403-236-9430