Updated: Jan 28
Discussing mental health and often even having a mental health disorder can be very difficult. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and before it ends we want to make sure that we verbalize, that you are not alone. According to the National Alliance of Mental Health Awareness (NAMI), more than 51 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing mental health illnesses daily. I in 6 youth have experiences with mental health conditions every year. One of the biggest barriers when managing mental health struggles is finding the appropriate support and aid. I have compiled a list of how to find mental health professionals, job assistance, supportive communities, and emergency resources, that will hopefully help you or someone that you know.
[*If you need immediate assistance, please click here to jump to emergency resources*]
Mental Health Care Providers
I know that it can be incredibly difficult to find adequate and affordable mental health care depending upon your location, insurance, finances, etc. Here are some different solutions.
If you have insurance: You can contact your insurance provider directly via phone and ask for assistance finding a provider in-network or log into their online portal and use their provider search tool to narrow down your requests (ie: distance to travel, religion, gender…). You can also search for covered providers on the Psychology Today website.
If you do not have insurance, but are able to spend some money: Nowadays there are apps that you can pay a monthly subscription (with different tiers), that give you access to therapeutic help. You take a quiz and a consultant matches you to a therapist. Many of these apps and websites also have a financial aid option, so you may be able to enroll at a lower monthly fee. Some popular websites and apps that allow you to connect with therapists are TalkSpace and BetterHelp. Remember that everyone is different, so what may work for one person may not work for you and that’s okay.
If you are within the LGBTQIAA community, then many LGBT+ centers offer free counseling. You can use Google to find your local center and see what they offer.
Check with your Employer or HR department. Some employers offer mental health services or have contacts and connections for their employees to be able to seek free or affordable mental health assistance.
If you are a student, your school or college should have a counselling or welfare department that offers free services.
You can search your State’s or County’s Health Department Website as some local governments offer free services for residents depending upon certain qualifying factors.
Planned Parenthood has counselors that can help direct you towards local resources depending upon your needs. They don’t only offer counselling regarding family planning.
You can view your local community center’s services as well. Some of them offer special welfare days.
If you are still uncertain, you can contact the SAMHSA Helpline for general information on mental health and to locate assistance in your area within the USA. Call 1-877-726-4727 Monday through Friday 8am to 8pm EST.
ADA, Education, and Job Assistance
Sometimes when living with mental health disorders assistance is needed to be able to have equal access, but the necessary resources can seem hard to find. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to people with mental health illnesses and disorders when the meet the definition of a disability, ie: having a physical or mental impairment that greatly limits one or more major life activity.
Assistance at Work: The Social Security Department wrote this article a couple years ago explaining how employees with mental health disabilities are protected under the ADA law. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a valuable resource to anyone with any disability who is trying to figure out which accommodations would best meet their needs at work and how to go about the process of requesting them. JAN has a library of suggested accommodations based upon different illnesses and disabilities
Assistance at School: The US Department of Education states that it is the school’s responsibility to provide necessary auxiliary aids the ensure that no qualified student is denied benefits or subject to discrimination. If you or someone you know wishes to see if they qualify for school assistance based upon mental health illnesses, they can review this document from the US Department of Education.
Assistance at College: If you attend college or university, they are required to follow the ADA laws as well. Typically, you would have to submit documentation of your mental health illness and the requests that you are making for accommodations. NAMI has tips for success on their website for College Students who are managing mental health conditions.
Find a Community
Resources and professionals can be wonderful, but sometimes it helps to find a supportive community of peers online or in person.
The Mighty hosts blog posts from people of a variety of experiences, but it also is an online platform to connect within the community.
Facebook surprisingly has a number of private groups that you can join related to different mental health issues where the community engage with one another to discuss their different experiences.
The DBSAlliance is an online support group for people with Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
The Anxiety and Depression Society of America also has an online community.
If you want to go to an in-person support group, you can start here looking at this list and support group search tool. You can check with your care provider, local hospitals, and community centers as many of them offer low cost or free support groups. Additionally, there are often non-profits that host monthly groups for different mental health issues.
In Case of an Emergency
If you or someone you know if in a crisis situation, where they are a danger to themselves or to others, please don’t wait to schedule a time to see a provider. If it is a dire emergency, please call 911 immediately. You can also use the following resources for suicide and crisis needs.
[*Trigger Warning: This list discusses suicide and domestic abuse resources. To skip these resources, click here.*]
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or chat live with them online. Your conversations are completely confidential and trained crisis workers are available to chat with you 24/7.
The Trevor Project is another confidential chat line that you can use. It is aimed at LGBT+ youth and young adults, but they won’t turn anyone away if you don't fall in this category. You can call them at 1-866-488-7386, or chat with them online or via text (text START to 678-678). All of their services are available 27/7.
NAMI also has a helpline available Mondays through Fridays, 10am to 8pm. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
If the crisis involves domestic abuse or a situation at home has become unsafe and you or someone you know are unable to call 911, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline available 24/7 at 800-799-SAFE (7233), chat online with them here, or text them by texting “START” to 1-800-799-7233.
There are many more hotlines and chats depending upon what your emergency situation may be. Here are links to a couple others if the situation differs from those mentioned above. National Sexual Assault Hotline. Child Abuse Hotline. National Runaway Safeline.
Throughout this blog I have touched on a wide range of mental health resources and topics. I hope this list is beneficial to you and please share them with anyone you know who may need the resources as well. We also have created a list of self-care techniques suggested by our Music and Art Therapists which you can view here. Ultimately, we want everyone to be able to access the mental health care and support that they need and that is right for them. Let’s all work together to destigmatize mental health, and know that you are not alone.
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Sydney Davis-Campos is the Virtual Learning Coordinator at Able ARTS Work, Learn for Life. She has a B.A. in Studio Art and Art History. Sydney has worked at Able ARTS Work for almost 5 years where she has also held the positions of Art Instructor and an Assistant Program Manager.