There have been many people who come to My Depression Connection requesting information about how to get mental health services when they have little to no insurance or little to no money.
I have been telling people to read a post I wrote last year entitled, "How Do I Get Mental Health Services with No Money and No Insurance." I scoured the Internet for any resource I could find to help. But from what I can glean is that some people are still having great difficulty finding sources of help.
There are many links given in the article so the first question I have is, have you tried all the links...or calling all the numbers given?
It is a horrible thing when you or your loved one needs help and the system is difficult to navigate. When you have no money or insurance it is even that much harder to find help. I am not going to lie to you. It is not easy. It is not fun. But just because it is hard doesn't mean you give up. I would implore you to keep trying.
I wanted to just relate a couple of my experiences to show that yes I understand where some of you are coming from. As a teen I had no insurance or money. My mother and I were barely scraping by on my mother's widow benefits and a minimum wage job I had at a bakery. During this time I was experiencing a very bad episode of depression. What I ended up doing was going to my local community center and there were grad students who offered counseling at a reduced cost. So even then I did have to pay something when I had nothing.
Even when you do have insurance, it can be difficult to find help. There was a time when I called a hotline and was given a number to call of a local mental health agency. I went to this agency the next day and of all the ironies I was turned away because I did have insurance. Unless I was wanting to volunteer to be inpatient they really did not have any resources for me. Still in crisis, I went to the local library, looked up mental health practitioners who were on my insurance plan. I dialed the numbers one by one. Many were not accepting new patients. Some could not see me for weeks. I opted to just "show up" at one therapy site, hoping I could plead to be seen soon. No such luck. Both therapists were on vacation. At the end of the day I thought to myself, "I might as well live as I have invested so much time to get help!" I ended up having to wait several weeks for an appointment with a therapist.
So I do understand. And I bet many of the members here understand your frustration with finding mental health help. It should not be this way but it is. I have been hung up on, been told to wait weeks or months, and so forth. Right now I am dealing with finding help for my son who has autism and needs a change of meds. We have been waiting for four months for an appointment with his pediatric neurologist because she is the only doctor in town with her credentials.
Sometimes it does feel like we are at the mercy of the system. The best thing to do is to get someone to help you to navigate the system to get the help you need.
I want to be part of the solution as best as I can on this site.
One more "tough love" thing I do want to say is that even when you do get help...it is still going to be hard. Therapy is hard work. It isn't like you go in there, plop down, and someone fixes you. Same with medication. The meds take time to kick in, usually 6-8 weeks. You will have to have proper expectations and be patient.
But if you or your loved one are suicidal and in crisis and need to talk or see someone now...
Option one: Call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Option two: Call a suicide hotline.
National Suicide Hopeline Phone: 800.784.2433
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone: 800.273.8255
The suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day, toll free, and you can choose to be anonymous. If you explain your situation that you have no money or insurance...they can also find resources for you...if you tell them your geographic location.
If you are not suicidal but still in great need to talk with someone or get help with finding resources, here are some options:
1. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an excellent resource. I called them this week to ask for assistance with finding resources for this post. You can find local NAMI support on their "Find Your Local Nami" page.
You can also call NAMI for assistance: NAMI National HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264 (M-F, 10am to 6pm eastern time).
Don't be dismayed if you have to leave a message for your local NAMI. It was explained to me that most affiliates are run by volunteers, so callers may have to leave a message but the affiliate will get back to them.
2. Call a 'Warm Line" A warmline is a peer-run listening line staffed by people in recovery themselves. The numbers listed on the site in red are ones which are nationally accessible and welcome calls from anywhere.
Here are several state/national warm lines from the warm line site:
Compassionate Ear Warmline
866-WARM-EAR (927-6327) or 913-281-2252
4 pm - 10 pm, 7 days a week
Kansas crisis number: 800-784-2433
520-770-9909 or 877-770-9912 in southern Arizona
5 - 10 pm Monday - Thursday
3 - 11 pm Friday
1 - 10 pm Saturday and Sunday
Local crisis number: 520-622-6000
Edinburg Center Warmline
Monday - Friday: 5 pm - 10 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 1 pm - 10 pm
3. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA (1-800-789-2647) can help find Community Mental Health Centers and other treatment throughout the country.
SAMHSA has a National Mental Health Information Center which has a Mental Health Services Locator. For example, if you live in Alexandria Virginia you plug in your state first and then look for specific mental health services in Alexandia. Here is one of many which came up when I did the search:
Alexandria Mental Health Center
Community Support Program
4480 King St
Phone: (703) 838-4706
You want to look for your local mental health center. You call and ask what can be done for your situation. If you don't have insurance be up front and explain this.
If you are having trouble navigating all of this...you need to find a family member or friend to help you.
I am opening this up to our members to also give ideas for resources for mental health services. I have given information for people living in the United States only. If you have numbers or links to world wide or international mental health resources please do share those as well. I am hoping to gather as many resources as possible for those who lack insurance or money or just need to know how to find mental health help.
Thanks ahead of time to anyone who shares any resources with us.
Published On: August 11, 2010