41 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can't Afford A Therapist
Sure, pretty much everyone could benefit from therapy. But not everyone can afford it. Thankfully, there's a whole world of free or affordable mental healthcare out there designed to help you with just about every issue, whether that's kicking an addiction, managing your emotions, finding a group of like-minded peers, or recovering from trauma.
Even better? Some of these resources are available whenever you need them. (No need to schedule an appointment between the hours of 9 and 5.) Support groups, hotlines and call centers, websites and online forums, and even apps can be put into action when you have a crisis or just need extra support.
Finding out which resources are best for you, however, takes some legwork. We've rounded up 81 of the very best affordable (or free) mental health resources. Keep this list handy whenever you need some backup.
Note: Resources are listed alphabetically by type.
Mental Health Apps
1. ACT Coach
ACT Coach teaches users how to tolerate negative thoughts and feelings by virtually guiding them through awareness exercises and giving tips on how to ditch self-doubt. With an extra focus on mindfulness, this app also provides a log to track your progress. (Free; iOS)
Designed by therapist Rosemary Sword, this app uses Time Perspective Therapy, a method developed to unglue us from unhelpful or obsessive thoughts.
Chockfull of visual aids to encourage relaxation and self-soothing, AETAS also arms users with a time perspective inventory that helps them understand how they view the past, present and future will either help or hinder their happiness. ($4.99; iOS)
Sometimes, all we need to de-stress is take a few deep breaths.
Created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app teaches users how to do diaphragmatic breathing. Features include educational videos on the stress response, logs to record stress levels and customizable guided breathing sessions. (Free; iOS and Android)
4. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach
This app works as a daily mood and thought diary. But it also has a coaching module that gives tips on sticky emotional situations, like how to ask for what you need without drama or how to successfully resolve conflict.
And users get positive reinforcement when they're consistent with their entries. The app also includes a super helpful DBT reference section for more info on coping skills -- all backed by research. ($4.99; iOS)
5. Depression CBT Self-Help Guide
Need help managing the blues? Monitor dips in your mood, learn about clinical depression and treatments, try guided relaxation techniques and learn strategies to challenge negative thinking with this app. It's all just a few taps and swipes away. (Free; Android)
6. eCBT calm
Implementing some of the many strategies of cognitive behavioral therapy, this app helps users assess their stress levels, practice mindfulness and relaxation skills, and connect their thoughts to feelings and behaviors.
The end result is more calm in your everyday life and more awareness of your actions and emotions. ($0.99; iOS)
Want to kick negative thoughts, nix worry and dial down stress? The array of engaging games, activity suggestions and gratitude prompts makes Happify a useful shortcut to a good mood.
Designed with input from 18 health and happiness experts, Happify's positive mood-training program is psychologist approved. Even cooler? Its website links to bonus videos that are sure to make you smile. (Free; iOS)
8. How Are You
Tracking your moods can help you fight the blues and teach you to tune into positive things. That's the premise behind this app.
But, as a bonus, it also allows you to compare your mood with worldwide averages, see which emotions you feel the most and export your mood tracking data so you can share it with a mental health professional or trusted friend. ($9.99-$12.99; iOS and Android)
This straightforward stress management tool helps users re-think what's stressing them out through a variety of on-screen prompts.
10. Operation Reach Out
This mood tracker and resource locator was designed by Emory University researchers to aid in suicide prevention.
The setup is simple: Users create a personal profile that includes emergency contact information, current medications, safety plans and reminders for appointments or medications.
11. PTSD Coach
If you suffer from PTSD symptoms, this 24-hour tool that's linked directly with support services is a valuable thing to download.
Available as an app or on the Web, PTSD Coach lets users select the specific issue they want to deal with (from anxiety and anger to insomnia and alienation), and then gives them guidance on how to lift their mood, shift their mindset and reduce stress. (Free; iOS and Android)
12. Quit It
If you're a smoker, you probably already know all about the nasty health consequences. But that probably doesn't stop you from lighting up.
Think of it as extra financial incentive to kick nicotine and tobacco (and save for something far better!). ($1.99; iOS)
13. Quit Pro
Think of this as a fitness tracker for your smoking habit. By monitoring your cravings over time, the places you puff the most, the triggers that lead you to light up and the money you save by resisting a cigarette, this comprehensive app is a much better thing to have in your back pocket than a pack of smokes. (Free; iOS and Android)
How do you know what's pushing you over the edge and reel yourself back in? SAM's approach is to monitor anxious thoughts, track behavior over time and use guided self-help exercises to discourage stress.
15. Step Away
A study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found this pro-sobriety app helped reduce heavy drinking among users by 60 percent.
Step Away offers tips on maintaining sobriety, encouragement and strategies to avoid drinking during stressful times. You'll also be able to plug in your top drinking triggers to prepare yourself before facing down any tricky situation. (Free; iOS)
16. Stop, Breathe, Think!
Got five minutes? That's enough time to cultivate mindfulness, which can improve your mood, lower stress and help you feel more compassion toward yourself and the world.
17. Stop Drinking
Relying on the powers of relaxation, visualization and positive suggestions, this pro-sobriety app has the goal of calming your mind and getting it to a less stressed place -- where you'll be less likely to crave a drink.
18. Stress and Anxiety Companion
Sure, we know that releasing negative thoughts, practicing relaxation techniques and engaging in mindful awareness is good for our wellbeing. But that doesn't mean we actually do it.
This app can help make the process a lot easier by guiding you through proven techniques to reduce those off-kilter thoughts and emotions while cultivating a much more present mindset.
For that low fee, you can text message with a trained professional every day of the week, as many times as you want. They also offer services for individuals and couples. Oh, and the best part? You can do it from your couch. ($25/month; iOS and Android)
20. Worry Watch
We all get anxious only to realize later our anxieties were overblown or irrational. The idea behind Worry Watch is to nip these moments in the bud.
This app enables users to track what kickstarts their anxiety, note trends in their feelings, observe when the outcomes were harmless and keep tabs on insights to stop future freakouts.
To lower your anxiety even further, Worry Watch is password protected, so whatever you divulge in the diary feature is safe and sound. ($1.99; iOS)
Websites, Online Support and Forums
21. Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation
People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have a damaging preoccupation with their appearance and an obsessive focus on their physical flaws. If that sounds familiar, you might find some relief on the BDD Foundation's website.
Resources for better understanding the problem, seeking treatment and spreading the word about the disorder are all laid out here.
22. Center for Complicated Grief
Hosted by the Center for Complicated Grief, this long list of resources gives people a ton of alternative outlets, social support groups and organizations to connect with when healing from the loss of a loved one.
23. CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Founded in 1994 as an alliance to promote and maintain LGBTQ community centers, CenterLink's helpful services have now moved online.
Check out all they have to offer -- from links to health centers across the US to advocacy groups and educational services.
24. GLBT National Help Center
A great resource for folks identifying all across the LGBTQ spectrum, this site includes information on everything from support to education to community organizing.
One of the center's best resources is its online volunteer-run chat room. All chats are confidential (read: no transcripts or recordings are saved). Chats are open 1 pm to 9 pm PST during the week and between 9 am and 2 pm PST on weekends.
25. Healing From BPD
For anyone with borderline personality disorder, this peer-run chat is the perfect online space to ask questions about BPD and its treatment, especially considering that mental health professionals often chime in.
It's also a place to share experiences, discuss progress and challenges, and potentially make some new friends who get where you're coming from because they're right there with you.
If you're in a place where picking up the phone seems too daunting, you can still access support through IMAlive's virtual crisis chat.
Staffed by a network of trained and supervised peer volunteers around the country, IMAlive's goal is to empower individuals in despair, address their situations and help them navigate the darkest and most difficult emotional times.
27. International OCD Foundation
An invaluable space for those struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder, this site has many links, resources and opportunities to get involved in the ongoing fight to preserve mental health.
Find help, learn more about the illness and even apply for grants here.
The main goal of this government-sponsored resource is to educate as many people as possible about the realities of mental illness in America while offering resources to those seeking help.
Consider this your go-to site for a rundown on what mental health disorders look like. It also includes information on how to get help, support someone you love, or start a dialog about mental health in your community.
29. National Alliance on Mental Illness
From education about mental illness to updates on insurance coverage, NAMI offers a slew of resources. People who want to get informed about the workings of the mind and our government's recognition of mood and behavioral disorders will get the full scoop here.
But arguably the most helpful resource is the heart-wrenching and hopeful personal stories from individuals across the country sharing their accounts of living with mental illness.
30. National Center for Victims of Crime
This impeccable resource enables victims of all types of crimes (think: bullying, physical abuse, stalking and even terrorism) to secure the specific type of help they need.
Individuals in need can plug in their desired assistance, from case advocacy to counseling, along with their state and county for immediate, local help ASAP.
31. National Eating Disorder Association of America
You can also get involved with the association's sister program, Proud2BMe, and join a community geared toward promoting a healthier relationship with food and weight.
32. National Institute of Mental Health
One of the most comprehensive and trusted sources for information about mental illness, the National Institute of Mental Health's site is packed with educational tools designed to promote awareness and provide funding for research.
It serves as a hub on a variety of topics: the latest news on a range of disorders, updates on new treatments and reports on insurance coverage. And, yes, you can also search for support via NIMH's site as well.
Designed for teens and young adults with mental illness, this site offers an online outlet for people to come forward with their own stories, find support and discuss the diagnoses they may have received.
OK2Talk comes with plenty of motivational posts and mantras as well. One quick look at the site will tip you off that, whatever you're struggling with, you're most certainly not alone.
34. Stalking Resource Center
You probably already know stalking is an extremely serious issue. But you may not know what type of help to seek if you or someone you know is a victim. Here's where the Stalking Resource Center can help.
They present a number of options for anyone struggling with endless unwanted attention or obsessive behavior. From a brochure explaining what stalking is (and how to tell if you're being followed) to tips on developing a safety plan, this site should be the first stop for anyone in need of assistance.
35. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
This government-sponsored resource is chockfull of data, research insights, grants and educational tools about substance dependencies and mood or behavioral issues. SAMHSA also offers many resources for people suffering from these issues.
36. Trevor Space
Are you a young person seeking support for an identity that falls along the LGBTQ spectrum? This site, an endeavor sponsored by the Trevor Project, is an excellent safe haven to connect to other young gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans* or queer people.
You'll also pick up news about LGBTQ issues and get tips for joining in the community, wherever you live.
Hotlines and Call Centers
37. Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center: 1-888-694-2273
If you've been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder -- or you have a hunch you or a loved one may be displaying symptoms of BPD -- the social workers staffing the Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center's hotline can arm you with all the information you need about local resources and provide immediate over-the-phone counseling.
38. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
With the primary aim of keeping you going even in the darkest of times, this suicide prevention hotline is available 24/7 to offer a compassionate ear -- no matter what you're dealing with.
Pour your heart out to a skilled staffer without fear of being judged, and if you'd like referrals to local mental health care services after your call, hotline representatives can set you up.
39. Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
If you've recently been the victim of a disaster (whether caused by nature or man), this is your go-to contact for all things related to counseling and relief. The trained counselors staffing the Disaster Distress Hotline provide help to those suffering in the wake of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts and earthquakes as well as incidences of mass violence or health epidemics (like the Ebola crisis).
The call center is also open to friends and family members of victims. An alternative way to connect is to text "TalkWithUs" to 66746.
40. GLBT National Help Line: 1-888-843-4564
Need to talk to someone who gets it when it comes to coming out, being bullied for your sexual orientation, or navigating same-sex relationships? Look no further than the GLBT National Help Line, run by peers and allies of the LGBTQ community.
This hotline is ready to hear your concerns and can connect you to the GLBT National Help Center's massive list of resources for LGBTQ-friendly services and organizations near you.
41. GLBT National Help Center for Youth: 1-800-246-7743
If you're under 21 and looking to speak with a peer counselor who really understands issues related to gender or sexual identity, this is the number to call. Similar to the national help line, this version for youth lets young LGBTQ-identified individuals dial in to talk about hardships faced in their day-to-day lives.
Callers can also access a ton of resources to help bolster them well into their 20s and beyond.
Read the full list on Greatist.