How to Find the Mental Healthcare You Need
It may take a search, but mental health resources are out there.
Posted February 13, 2020 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
Accessing quality mental healthcare isn’t always easy. Providers may not be taking new patients. They may be out of network, requiring payments that could be unaffordable. Not knowing where to look for the kind of care needed or the social stigma attached to mental health concerns may also keep people from getting support. There are many obstacles in our current system to finding quality, affordable mental healthcare.
Here are six suggestions to help you access the mental health services you or a loved one might need.
Talk to Your Benefits Administrator. The first step in any discussion about mental healthcare is to find out what your medical insurance covers. If you work for a large corporation, there are people available to help you get the care that you need. You don’t need to disclose the nature of your concern, but increasingly, major corporations are providing more access to mental health services and working to decrease the stigma around receiving these services. Check out what your company has to offer.
Call Your Insurance Provider. If you work for yourself or a small company, or if you are uncomfortable speaking to someone in benefits administration, call your insurance provider directly. They will be able to explain the extent of your benefits. This could include anything from residential drug treatment or detox to a certain number of visits to a psychotherapist or counselor. Some insurance providers will authorize a particular number of visits to a therapist or stay in a treatment facility, then increase the number if medically necessary. Others will not.
If that feels uncomfortable, you might try having your primary care physician call your insurance provider on your behalf. Many times, your physician can advocate for you to push the limit of your benefits. They can also help you find in-network referrals.
If you are a veteran, you will have access to mental healthcare through the VA and from veterans’ support groups. There are people who will advocate for you and may help manage your case as you work through the steps required to access care. Meanwhile, community resources specifically for veterans may be available depending on where you live.
Seek Online Services. Increasingly, therapists are offering their services in online formats. This can be important for people who are unable to get to a midday, midweek appointment or who live in rural areas where there may not be local service providers. The downside of online services is that they may or may not be covered by insurance. You can always inquire whether or not a provider bills to insurance or uses a sliding fee scale.
Talk to Community Organizations like NAMI. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the largest grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to helping people find mental health resources. Since NAMI is a grassroots organization, most NAMI offices have deep connections in the community. They will have resources for a variety of mental health issues and know about community organizations, self-help groups, support services for family members, and other options at many price points.
Ask for Support from Clergy. If you belong to a religious organization, your clergy may be able to point you in the direction of mental health resources. Be specific. Sometimes, clergy will give counseling on general life issues. If you have a mental health concern, ask for the support of a professional. As do secular community organizations, clergy have relationships with many different kinds of service providers. Also, if you need a therapist who speaks a particular language or has a specific cultural understanding, clergy may be able to help connect you with those resources.
Don’t Give Up. You might not find the mental health services you need right away. The first therapist or service provider you go to might not be the right fit. Please do not stop trying. You deserve the help that you require. It’s unfortunate that those services are not always at our fingertips, but you can find them. Enlist the resources that you have through religious groups, community organizations, your work, and supportive friends. Recovery happens. Give yourself what you need to find your best mental health.
To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.