Where to Find Mental Health Care If You Don't Have Insurance

Written by HeyDoctor Medical Team

A list of affordable resources.

Taking care of your mental health is always important, but particularly during uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic. People with anxiety — and even those who normally aren’t prone to it — may benefit from speaking with a professional therapist during this time about how to cope with the jarring changes to their everyday routines, as well as feelings of isolation, and fears of illness and contamination (especially those with obsessive-compulsive disorder). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “tens of millions” of people in the U.S. suffer from mental illness, but estimates suggest only half receive treatment for it. One reason is surely the cost of therapy. If you do not have medical insurance, where do you turn for help?

Here are the best places to access affordable mental health care:

Find a free clinic or therapist with sliding-scale fees

Some therapists offer a sliding-scale fee structure based on income to help patients who can’t afford the practice’s typical rates, while other clinics offer completely free services. The 2019 National Directory Of Mental Health Treatment Facilities from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a detailed list by state of centers that offer sliding scales and payment assistance.

Check out your university’s services

College students may be able to find affordable or free mental health care on campus (once schools resume sessions after COVID-19 closures). Therapists have to train with patients during their schooling, so many universities’ psychology departments offer sessions to patients through training clinics. Check out the Association of Psychology Training Clinics list for more information.

Buy a therapy subscription

Online therapy subscriptions are available though sites such as Regain, which specializes in couples’ counseling but also offers individual sessions, via your computer, smartphone or tablet. The cost is $40 to $70 a week (billed monthly). Talkspace, which has an app, offers professional therapists’ advice in the form of secure video, audio and text, with plans starting at $260 a month.

Download a podcast

Many podcasts these days address mental health and can be listened to at your convenience. Some, like The OCD Stories, address specific mental health conditions and often feature licensed professional therapists as the guests. This is best done as a supplement to your regular one-on-one therapy sessions, however, since they are unable to provide individualized medical advice.

Call a hotline

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline connects to a network of 170 local crisis centers across the country and is available 24/7 through phone or live chat. In addition, if you are in a dangerous situation at home — particularly during this time of shelter in place instituted in many states in response to COVID-19 — please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or connect to the live chat online. In addition, SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Helpline that provides 24/7 call or text services from trained counselors for those affected by “natural or human-caused disasters.” Call 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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