People struggling with a mental health crisis now have a new, free way to seek help.
Just dial 988.
The idea is similar to 911, but instead of connecting to law enforcement or paramedics, callers will be immediately connected to a trained mental health professional.
A call to 988 will connect to one of more than 200 local crisis call centers that already exist as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Calls to this number (1-800-273-8255) will be routed to 988.
Callers will speak to a trained counselor at a crisis center nearest to them. If this center cannot take the call, it will be routed to one of the 16 emergency centres.
Since early 2021, the Biden administration has spent $400 million to support the 988 system by investing in mental health services and crisis centers.
But what if you feel like you need mental health care but aren’t in crisis?
You should still seek help, even if it’s not over 988.
As with any health condition, not seeking mental health care could be detrimental to your long-term health, so we want to help you find the care you need with all the resources you have – the less is dear, the better if you don’t. have insurance.
12 ways to find free or low-cost mental health services
Instead of forgoing care or going into debt for medical bills, try these options to find affordable or free counseling and other mental health care services.
1. Find a training clinic
As in other areas of health and medicine, students should practice working with the public before becoming clinical psychologists or counselors.
This is good news for all of us who want to save money on therapy.
Training clinics are usually located near or within universities. You will attend sessions with a graduate student supervised by a licensed psychologist. These clinics usually charge on a sliding scale (which can be as low as $0, if that’s where your scale slips…)
To find one near you, you can browse the Association of Psychology Training Clinics for member clinics. Or just search for “[your city] psychology training clinic.
2. Visit a community mental health center
Community mental health centers may offer access to support groups, individual counseling or resources to learn more about your mental health issues.
Find a center through the Department of Social Services on your state government website.
You can also find services through private, nonprofit organizations. The YMCA offers low-cost, scalable behavioral and family health services for children and adults. Search for counseling and mental health services by your local Y.
3. Join a support group
While you miss the personalized care and complete anonymity of private sessions, support groups can be the perfect solution for free or low-cost therapy.
Organizations like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the American Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) host free community support groups in person or online.
If you want to work with a particular therapist but can’t afford private sessions — because you’ve lost your insurance coverage, for example — ask if they offer group sessions. These should be offered at a lower rate than you could potentially afford to pay.
4. Negotiate and ask for discounts
You may not realize it, but your medical bills are totally negotiable. By a plot.
Don’t be afraid to play lowball here – it’s not a business deal, so you don’t have to worry about making a bad impression.
When you receive a bill for services, contact the provider just to let them know you can’t afford it. They may be willing to cut the cost more than half if you can pay a big chunk up front.
If you don’t have cash on hand, request a payment plan. Get on it before the bill is sent to collections and request a monthly payment you can manage.
5. Consult an online therapist
Telehealth (or telemedicine) is convenient for a lot of people and could save you a ton of money on healthcare.
With an app like Teladoc, you can see a medical professional for physical or mental health concerns for a fraction of the cost – and time – of a trip to the clinic. Telemedicine doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment, and even prescribe medication if needed.
Or opt for a therapy app subscription like Discussion area Where BetterHelp. You have access to a licensed therapist via audio or text messaging, or live video chat for around $60 to $150 per week, paid monthly.
6. Lean on your spiritual community and leaders
If you belong to an organized religious group, you may find the help you need within that community.
Does your organization run free support groups or retreats where you can connect with others in your situation? Perhaps your pastor or other community leaders offer free individual or couple counseling.
If you’re afraid to talk about your struggles in a small community, remember: everyone who comes to group therapy is looking for help, just like you.
7. Use the services of your school or college
College or university students and faculty often access health care services through their schools. Your tuition and fees subsidize them, so might as well take advantage of it!
Children enrolled in a K-12 school may also have access to sessions with a school counselor. Rely on these options when your family cannot afford private mental health services.
8. Check the Internet
Going online to self-diagnose your ailments is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
But if you already know what you’re dealing with, checking the website of a relevant association could help you when you have questions and don’t have access to a doctor.
For example, if you suffer from anxiety, you can find reliable resources on these sites:
Some people also find online interactions, like following a therapist on TikTok or Facebook groups, helpful for connecting with others who understand your situation.
Just be careful to take suggestions from random individuals with a grain of salt – this goes for a therapist who doesn’t work with you individually too – and never rely on them for diagnosis or medical advice.
9. Call NAMI
In addition to 988, if you prefer to speak directly to someone, you can call NAMI Hotline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for answers about symptoms, treatments and resources. The helpline itself does not offer advice, but it can help connect you to programs in your area.
10. Check your benefits
Some companies and government agencies offer what’s called an employee assistance program, which might cover some free counseling sessions, among other benefits.
Check with a human resources representative to find out if your organization offers this type of benefit and ask how you can take advantage of it.
In some cases, the available advisor is someone working as a consultant for your business and can consult with company officers as well as employee advisors. They are likely bound by certain privacy requirements, but if you have concerns about your privacy in the workplace, state those requirements in advance.
11. Stop by an LGBTQ center
If you are looking for safe and assertive support as an LGBTQ person, seek out local LGBTQ centers and support or advocacy organizations. They may offer support groups, access to counseling, or resources for LGBTQ-friendly care.
You can search for “LGBTQ center at [your city or town]or browse these resources:
- The US Department of Health and Human Services shares a list of LGBTQ support and advocacy groups.
- The Trevor Project, focused on supporting LGBTQ youth, offers a crisis line you can call, text or chat with. It also offers text, chat and phone advice.
- find a PFLAG chapter near you to support LGBTQ individuals, friends and families.
12. Join a therapy collective
open the way is a non-profit psychotherapy collective that offers low-cost counseling to people in financial need.
You can join the collective for a flat rate of $59, then receive care between $30 and $60 per session (up to $80 for couple and family sessions).
The collective lets you search for therapists in your area or talk to someone online, so you should be able to find the help you need no matter where you live.
OpenPath does not require income verification for membership, but does require you to use the service only if you are uninsured, underinsured, have a household income of less than $100,000 per year, or you cannot cover market rates for therapy.