If you need treatment for mental distress or substance use, but are not sure how to find it…
If you have insurance, check your insurer’s website.
For substance use and mental health disorders, you can access the SAMHSA treatment locator. You can find buprenorphine treatment (medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction) through SAMHSA as well.
Additionally, you could contact your local Mental Health America Affiliate for advice and/or referrals.
If you cannot afford therapy…
EAP (employee assistance programs) frequently offer free (time-limited) counseling sessions.
At campus counseling centers, grad students sometimes offer free or low-cost services.
You could look into community mental health centers or local churches (pastoral counseling).
In some areas, you may be able to find pro bono counseling services. (Google “pro bono counseling” or “free therapy.”) You may also be able to connect with a peer specialist or counselor (for free) instead of seeing a licensed therapist.
As an alternative to individual counseling, you could attend a support group (self-help) or therapy group; check hospitals, churches, and community centers. The DBSA peer-lead support group locator tool will help you find local support groups. Meetup.com may also have support group options.
Additional alternatives: Consider online forums or communities. Watch or read self-help materials. Buy a workbook (such as The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-By-Step Program) from amazon.com. Download a therapy app.
Lastly, you could attend a free workshop or class at a local church, the library, a college or university, a community agency, or a hospital.
If you’re under 18 and need help, but your parents will not let you see a counselor (or “do not believe in therapy”)…
Some, but not all, states require parental consent for adolescents to participate in therapy. Start by looking up the laws in your state. You may be able to see a treatment provider without consent from a legal guardian. If your state is one that mandates consent, consider scheduling an appointment with your school counselor. In many schools, school counseling is considered a regular educational service and does not require parental consent.
Self-help groups, while not a substitute for mental health treatment, provide a venue for sharing your problems in a supportive environment. (If you suffer from a mental health condition, use NAMI to locate a support group in your state. If you struggle with addiction, consider AA or NA.)
Alternatively, you could join an online forum or group. (Mental Health America offers an online community with over 1 million users and NAMI offers OK2Talk, an online community for adolescents and young adults.)
You could also contact a Mental Health America Affiliate who would be able to tell you about local resources and additional options.
If you are in crisis, call the Boys Town Hotline at 1-800-448-3000 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Alternatively, you can text HOME to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor.
Lastly, consider talking with your pastor or a trusted teacher, reading self-help materials, downloading a therapy app, journaling, meditation or relaxation techniques, exercising, or therapy podcasts/videos.
If a loved one or friend says they are going to kill themselves, but refuses help…
Call 911. If you are with that person, stay with them until help arrives.
If you are thinking about or planning suicide…
If you are grieving…
Additionally, a funeral home or hospice center may be able to provide resources.
If you are a veteran, you and your family should be able to access free counseling through the VA.
The Compassionate Friends offers support after the loss of a child. Call for a customized package of bereavement materials (at no charge) or find a support group (in-person or online).
GRASP is a grief and recovery support network for those who have lost a loved one through substance use. You can find suicide support groups using the American Association of Suicidology’s directory or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s support group locator.
Hello Grief provides resources and education for children and adolescents who are grieving.
There are also online communities, forums, and support groups, including groups for suicide survivors such as Alliance of Hope and Parents of Suicides – Friends and Families of Suicides.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence…
For male survivors of sexual abuse: MaleSurvivors.org
For domestic violence: The National Domestic Violence Hotline
For gender-based violence: VAWnet
If you’re a victim of sex trafficking…
If you’re a victim of stalking…
If you can’t stop gambling…
Call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. Access screening tools and treatment at National Council on Problem Gambling. Attend a Gamblers Anonymous Group or other support group for problem gambling.
If you or a loved one has an eating disorder…
Contact the National Eating Disorders Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. (Alternatively, there’s a “live chat” option.) For support, resources, screening tools, and treatment options, explore the National Eating Disorder Association site.
Find support groups, recovery tools, and local treatment centers at Eating Disorder Hope.
If you are engaging in self-harm and can’t stop…
Call 1-800-DONT-CUT or attend an online support group, such as Self Mutilators Anonymous.
Read personal stories, learn coping skills, and access resources at Self-injury Outreach and Support.
Join an online community like RecoverYourLife.com.
If you’re concerned about the drinking or drug use of a friend or family member, but they don’t want help…
If you’re considering staging an intervention, know that there’s little to no evidence to support the effectiveness of this tactic.
Instead, read guidelines for approaching the issue (like What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs or How to Talk about Addiction). Learn everything that you can about addiction. Explore treatment centers in the area; if your loved one changes their mind, you’ll be prepared to help.
Keep in mind that it’s almost impossible to help someone who doesn’t want it. You can’t control your loved one or force them into treatment. Instead, find a way to accept that there’s no logic to addiction; it’s a complex brain disorder and no amount of pleading, arguing, or “guilting” will change that.
If a friend or family member overdoses on heroin or other opioid…
Call 911 immediately.
How to recognize the signs of opiate overdose: Recognizing Opiate Overdose from Harm Reduction Coalition
You can receive free training to administer naloxone, which reverses an opioid overdose. Take an online training course at Get Naloxone Now. You can purchase naloxone OTC in most states at CVS or Walgreens.
For more information about how to respond to an opioid overdose, access SAMHSA’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (for free).
If you want to quit smoking…
Call a smoking cessation hotline (like 1-800-QUIT-NOW) or live chat with a specialist, such as LiveHelp (National Cancer Institute).
Download a free app (like QuitNow! or Smoke Free) or sign up for a free texting program, like SmokefreeTXT, for extra support.
Attend an online workshop or participate in a smoking cessation course; your insurance provider may offer one or you may find classes at a local hospital or community center. You could also contact your EAP for additional resources.
If you or a loved one have a hoarding problem…
Read guidelines for approaching a hoarding issue with someone such as Hoarding: How to Help a Friend.
Learn more about hoarding and find help (support groups, treatment, etc.) at Hoarding: Help for Hoarding.
If your therapist is making unwanted sexual remarks/advances…
Contact the licensing board to file a complaint. Each state has a different licensing board. Additionally, contact the therapist’s professional association (i.e. American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, etc.) Provide your name, address, and telephone number (unless filing anonymously). Identify the practitioner you are reporting by his or her full name and license type. Provide a detailed summary of your concerns. Attach copies (not originals) of documents relating to your concerns, if applicable.
If you want to take a confidential online assessment for mental health or substance use disorders…
Free and anonymous screenings: Screening for Mental Health, Inc. or Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Mental Health Screening
For additional sites, self-help guides, literature, etc., check out the resource page.
If you know of a great resource, post in the comments below!
Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP