Navigating the mental health field and finding resources to help can be challenging at times. Sometimes it’s helpful to know where to start. Note, it can be helpful to remember that all professionals are human beings. As a result, you may meet some that are flawed. Those individuals do not represent the profession. If you have had negative experiences, I am sorry you had to go through them. I encourage you to continue your path toward healing and do not give up.
Here are suggestions for accessing help wherever you are:
If you’re experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911. It is the fastest way to get help.
Some individuals experiencing mental health symptoms hesitate when they see this. I get it. There is a lot to unpack with this suggestion related to stigma, criminalizing symptoms, and more that cannot be adequately addressed in this post.
In reality, most officers you will meet are truly dedicated “to protect and serve” those in the community. While you could meet an officer who does not have training for mental health emergencies, do not let this discourage you from calling 911, your life is too important. Many police departments are working to train their officers and bring in mental health professionals to respond in emergencies.
Once everyone is safe, they may choose to take you or your loved one to a hospital to be evaluated for inpatient hospitalization. This is largely dependent on the department’s policies and whether any criminal activity occurred during the situation. You may have to advocate for yourself or loved one to be evaluated for mental health services. To advocate, make sure they know in what way you or your loved one is at immediate risk for hurting themselves or others. Not everyone wants to go to an inpatient facility. Again, I get it. Like the officers, most of the individuals in inpatient facilities work there because they want to help.
If it is safe to do so you could go to a hospital directly for an evaluation for inpatient services. At the hospital, you must articulate how you or your loved one is at immediate risk for hurting themselves or others. Immediate or imminent risk is the definition of emergency in these cases. If not immediate, the symptoms may fall under the crisis category.
If you are in crisis you can:
- Use your search engine and type “county crisis contact” the first result should be a local number that will help you with crisis services in your area.
- You can use the Crisis Texting Line and text “Help” to 741741.
- You can go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/our-crisis-centers/
- You do not have to be suicidal to use this support option. From their website: “A crisis center is a resource for individuals going through mental health crises…Crisis centers also provide training and educational resources on suicide prevention and mental wellness.”
Remember, all crisis services will assess if you are having an emergency and may call 911 on your behalf. Your safety and the safety of your loved one are our first priorities.
Finding a Therapist and Options
If you’re looking for groups or counseling services and you have:
- You could apply for insurance by visiting https://www.healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/how-to-apply
- Private Pay. You could pay for services out of pocket. Many places will offer a sliding fee scale based on your income if you ask.
- Check with your county. Many counties offer free or reduced cost mental health or behavioral health services.
- Check with your local church, spiritual, or other social organizations. Many have a counselor on staff or access to groups to offer comfort and support during difficult times.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (aka NAMI) can be found by going to the website: https://nami.org/Home. At this site you will find information about a variety of mental health issues. They have a helpline, peer led family groups, and connection recovery groups. You can search by your state to find the groups in your area.
- Check the back of your insurance card or your insurance carrier’s website. Most insurances carry some form of mental health service. The key here is to meet the medical necessity for those services. While it may be uncomfortable, when you are completing the assessment for services, be honest. Talk about how your mental health symptoms are negatively impacting areas of your like your relationships, your work, your home environment, and your ability to care for your physical health.
- Even if you have insurance, you can choose to see someone outside of your network. Some insurances will cover services out of network or you can use the private pay option discussed above.
Your search engine can be your friend. Wherever you are, you can search for “therapists” in your area. You can search according to your need (such as “trauma therapists” or “family therapists”). You can search by types of therapy “near you.” Being specific can be helpful in narrowing down the options. Be careful about the results labeled as “ads,” located at the top of your search results. These are specifically designed to sell you something that may not be what you’re searching.
Some examples of different therapy types:
- CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a common form of talk therapy. The core principles of this method are that mental health symptoms are based, in part, on unhelpful thoughts and patterns of learned behavior based on those thoughts. The goals are to help you develop awareness of these thoughts and behaviors to learn to cope with them in healthier ways.
- DBT: Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a talk therapy adapted from CBT, focused on teaching individuals to deal with distress, regulate their emotions, live in the here and now, and to have healthy relationships.
- E.M.D.R.: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy was traditionally developed to help individuals with a history of trauma. Studies have shown, however, that this form of treatment is effective for addressing many mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, and is growing in popularity. Based on the understanding that the brain can adapt and heal, the eye movements are used to activate memories tied to upsetting thoughts and emotions. Once activated, the brain can continue to process and heal, which leads to a reduction in symptoms.
- Play Therapy: A form of psychotherapy in which play is used to communicate and manage emotions. Often used in conjunction with traditional forms of talk therapy.
- Art or Dance Therapy: Are forms of psychotherapy that use free self-expression through art modalities or dance and body movements to communicate and manage mental health symptoms. Often used in conjunction with traditional forms of talk therapy.
- Group Therapy: A form of therapy that uses groups to provide psychotherapy to help many individuals with similar symptoms or circumstances. A group session may teach skills using CBT or DBT. You could engage in play, art, or dance therapy in a group.
- Telehealth: This is therapy provided in the virtual platform. Many of the forms of psychotherapy listed above can be provided in this platform. Telehealth is growing in popularity due to its accessibility, but many individuals continue to prefer in person options.
- Other forms of psychotherapy can be found at this website from the American Psychological Association (APA): https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/approaches
Asking for help is an important step in your journey. Like all healing journeys that lead to growth, getting support can be difficult. You may need to advocate for yourself or your loved one. You may need to talk to a couple of different therapists before you find someone you trust. You will experience discomfort as you learn new skills and gain awareness of habits, but you will not be stuck there. You may choose to give up for a time, but after you take a break try again. Trusting the process is challenging but crucial for you and your loved one to find hope and healing. Thankfully, there are many different paths to take, and you are not alone.