Mental Health Services Guide (Plus Free Services)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national helpline that is available 24/7, 365-days a year. They can provide you with information about substance use disorders and mental health along with referring you to a professional for treatment.
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a helpline you can call in if you need support or crisis counseling after emotional distress. This could be caused by a human-caused disaster like a mass shooting or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or wildfire.
Text: TalkWithUs to 66746
Veteran’s Crisis Line
The Veteran’s Crisis Line was established in 2007 as a way to help all veterans in need. Many veterans are dealing with mental health challenges like PTSD from situations that many of the rest of us just can’t understand. The crisis line is answered by people that are trained to work with veterans and those that have a veteran they are concerned about. There are options for calls, online chats, and text messaging.
Phone: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides support for anyone that is in distress or going through a crisis or if you have a loved one that is. They have many resources available and can get you connected with a local counseling center.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention works to fund scientific research and raise awareness for those that are struggling with or affected by suicide. They provide resources for support groups and professionals as well as to individuals struggling with suicidal thinking.
Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line is a free hotline that has counselors available 24/7 to help anyone in crisis. No doubt that it can be intimidating to call a helpline (even though it shouldn’t be). If you aren’t comfortable talking to someone on the phone then texting can be a good option for getting the help you need.
Text the word CONNECT to 741741
Suicide is Different
This website provides support and resources for people (suicide caregivers) who are worried about someone in their life who is having thoughts of suicide. They share how suicide is different, prepare you for conversations about suicide, and provide tools to help you balance life as a caregiver.
Compassionate Friends provides help for grieving family members after the death of a child. By contacting them you can find support through local chapters and online communities. There is a wealth of knowledge on their website and you can request a Bereavement Packet that they will customize to your situation. Through their website, you can find the closest chapter to you from their list of over 600 chapters.
Opioid Treatment Program Directory
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has an easy online search that will help you to find an opioid treatment program that can help you within your state.
Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator
If you or a loved one has recently experienced symptoms for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or another serious mental illness, this tool will allow you to search online to find where you can go for treatment. The sooner you seek treatment after the onset of a serious mental health condition, the better chances you have of experiencing better outcomes.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) started OK2TALK which is a community for young adults and teens to have a safe place to find support for mental health challenges and struggles they are having. Everyone is welcome to share their story, experience, poems, song lyrics, or anything else.
This website is loaded with information for those that are struggling with mental challenges and their loved ones. It provides tips for talking about mental health, what to look for, along with how and where to get help.
Mental Health Screening Tools
Mental Health America has created free online mental health screening tools. It’s a fast and easy way to see if what you are experiencing falls in line with typical symptoms of mental health diagnosis. This can help you know what next steps to take in seeking treatment. There are screenings for depression, anxiety, bipolar, psychosis, eating disorder, PTSD, work health, addiction, along with a parent test and youth test. And, if you don’t know what test to take they have a guide to help you out.
The MHA website is also loaded with resources for people that are dealing with mental health challenges and their loved ones.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is on a mission to improve the life of people that are struggling with their mental health. They have more than 500 local affiliates that work to raise awareness and offer support.
If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can contact the organization and they will put you in touch with a local affiliate in your area.
LGBT National Hotline
Let me be clear that I’m not saying that LGBTQ is a mental health disorder. But, this organization helps LGBTQ individuals that are struggling with different parts of life. The LGBT National Help Center works to assist people that have questions about gender identity and sexual orientation. They run three hotlines and offer private one on one chat online. They can help with issues like coming-out, safer sex, school bullying, relationship problems, and family concerns. And, they also have online chat rooms for youth and teens to help them find a community of acceptance. It’s a safe place with no judgment that can help those that are suffering from depression or anxiety by people that are understanding and accepting.
Treatment and Research Advancements for Borderline Personality Disorder (TARA)
TARA provides you with access to researched-based information along with help to cope with Borderline Personality Disorder. Whether you are struggling or it’s one of your loved ones, they can connect you with local resources for treatment and support.
If you are a teenager or if you have a teenager this is a great resource to tap into. The Teen Line provides teen-to-teen support from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. EST for teenagers that are struggling and want to talk to another teen who knows what they’re talking about. They also provide resources, information, and offer message boards.
Text the word TEEN to 839863
National Council for Behavioral Health
The National Council for Behavioral Health has created an education program called Mental Health First Aid. The program was designed to help “the community understand mental illness, support timely intervention and save lines.” At the website, you can sign up to take courses in your area. You can even learn how to become certified to teach the course within your community.
The organization is all about creating mentally healthy communities by helping people get the help they need. And, they are also advocates on Capitol Hill working to get people access to the help they need.
A few tips for calling or texting a helpline
I know that it can feel overwhelming to reach out for help. You aren’t sure what to say or what the other person will ask you. It can be downright intimidating. This fear and insecurity can impact people enough that they don’t reach out for help at all, so here are some things to know that can help:
- It’s your choice what you share – You don’t have to share anything that you aren’t comfortable with. While it can be helpful to be open with the person on the other end, you are completely in control of the conversation. They won’t force you to share anything you don’t want to.
- Remember they WANT to help you – The people that work for or volunteer with mental health helplines and organizations have a passion for helping others. They are doing what they do because they want to offer you help. Don’t feel bad about taking their time because that’s what they’re there for. You aren’t wasting their time.
- You can call for a loved one – Many helplines are more than happy to talk to you even if you aren’t the person that’s struggling. They can provide you with tips on how to help your loved one along with resources that you both can use.
Additional tips for finding free or affordable help
Contact local universities
While all universities will have some type of mental health services provided for students, they are also a good resource for those in the community. You can also reach out to any teaching hospitals that are in your area. They often offer some free services along with more affordable options.
Look for sliding scales
If you would like to meet with a counselor but are worried about finding something you can afford, look for an office that has options for a sliding scale. The cost of your counseling will be based on your income in an effort to make the services more affordable.
Avoid the ER unless you are in a crisis situation
The ER is crucial for many reasons and the doctors are highly trained, however, this is not what you want to use as your first line of defense with a mental illness. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or think you are experiencing a mental breakdown than do not hesitate to head to the ER and get the immediate help that you need. But, if you aren’t going through a crisis than find another place to seek help first. The ER is not only costly but is not designed to help you with your long-term care.
See what your insurance will cover
There is always a chance that your health insurance benefits will cover mental health care. If you are currently on Medicaid you have access to free mental health care. Please take advantage of using these services if you need them. Don’t let pride, fear, or shame stand in the way.
Go to the community mental health clinic
Community mental health clinics often offer free or low-cost care for mental health services.
Why you should reach out for help with your mental health
Even though mental health is not talked about near enough, there are a lot of resources available to help you. Even if you don’t have great health insurance coverage or a big bank account for expensive private practice therapists, there are a lot of free and low-cost services out there. Your mental health is too important to not seek treatment when it’s available out there.
I’m sure you’ve heard that “knowledge is power”. The more educated you are on your diagnosis or the diagnosis of your loved one, the more successful you can be in how you learn to cope with it. As I continued to learn about my mental health challenges and started getting the treatment that I needed I discovered that mental illness is actually an asset. This is a shift in mindset that I want everyone to experience.
For the most part, mental health challenges are incredibly treatable. I would hate to know that you are continuing to struggle with your mental health when there are resources available that can help you. I urge you to take action and reach out to the organizations, services, and resources that are available to you.
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