According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 43 million adults in the United States have a mental illness. That number is approximately 18 percent of the nation’s population. Yet, mental illnesses are rarely talked about.
Every year, the first week of October is designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Designed to improve access to healthcare and awareness, MIAW is also a reminder of how important treatment is, even when you’re broke.
Many people avoid getting treatment for a mental illness because of cost. Visiting a therapist can cost as much as $300 per hour. However, that high price shouldn’t scare you away from seeking out a therapist; seeing a professional psychologist or psychiatrist is invaluable when you’re coping with a mental illness. There are many free or discounted resources out there that can help you get the care you need, regardless of your budget.
1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
When you’re overwhelmed with life and feel hopeless, horrible thoughts can enter your mind. If that happens to you, having someone to talk to about how you feel is essential to your mental health and well-being. When you don’t know who to call, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there for you.
By dialing 1-800-273-8255 or by using the chat system, you can talk to a trained crisis worker 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call about anything affecting you, from financial worries to depression. The crisis worker will listen to what you’re going through, offer support, and tell you about helpful resources. The service is completely free and available to you at any time.
The crisis worker may also have recommendations for local free and low-cost counseling and crisis centers near you. To find a center in your area, visit the network location site.
2. Federally-Funded Health Centers
If you do not have health insurance or are on a very tight budget, federally-health centers can be an excellent resource. Many of them offer low-cost therapy with professionals or support groups.
Federally-funded health centers provide comprehensive medical services, as well as other assistance like translation services. Depending on the center, you might be able to have sessions with a counselor, psychiatrist, or social worker to help you manage your illness.
At these centers, you pay only what you can afford based on your income. If you are looking for a federally-funded center near you, check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ site.
3. Find a Training Clinic
Some universities and hospitals have training clinics, where therapists and other mental health professionals practice working with the public before entering a professional environment.
These clinics offer free or discounted sessions with a graduate student and a licensed psychologist. Depending on your income, you could end up paying nothing for treatment.
The Association of Psychology Training Clinics has a comprehensive listing of training clinics throughout the country.
4. Attend a Support Group
Organizations like Mental Health America (MHA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offer support groups and group counseling sessions to local communities. When one-on-one therapy is just not possible, support groups can help you bridge the gap until you find a solution.
In many cases, the leader or organizer of the support group can also recommend free or discounted mental healthcare providers.
Visit your local NAMI or MHA office to inquire about support groups near you.
5. Employee Assistance Programs
If you are currently employed, your employer might have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Under an EAP, you get access to some services that can help you through difficult times. That can include legal advice, adoption assistance, and even mental health counseling. Some offer counseling and treatment options at no cost to you.
If you aren’t sure if you are part of an EAP or not, ask your human resources representative. Don’t be nervous about asking; many employees use the EAP for various reasons, and the things you share with a counselor cannot be shared with your employer.
When you’re struggling to manage a mental illness, cost should be the last thing on your mind. But with the high cost of therapy sessions, psychiatrist visits, and prescription medications, you may feel like you have to delay treatment so you don’t ruin your finances.
Your health is always your biggest priority. If you cannot afford treatment for a mental illness, there are many resources out there that will work with you to find a solution.
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