If you’re lower-income/lower-resourced, you can access mental health care!
1. A lot of therapists offer what is known as a sliding scale, which means that they will work with you to set a price that works for you. There is no set formula for figuring it out– but they’ll ask you how much you think you can pay and maybe how much you make. You could get up to a 50% discount, maybe even up to a 70% discount, on treatment.
2. See if your job has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can provide you with short-term mental healthcare, referrals, and financial assistance.
3. Reach out to therapists you’d be interested in seeing and say, “I’m curious if you have any pro bono slots open right now. I’m really motivated to do the work, I just don’t have the money. Is that something you’d be open to?” It might take some trial and error to find someone whose answer is yes!
4. Your house of worship might have options. Pastoral counseling– AKA getting counseling from a trained minister, rabbi, priest, imam, etc.– is usually free and another thing to look into. Most counselors, if not all, will be members of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, so they will have proper training.
5. Look into nearby graduate schools or teaching hospitals, which usually have clinics where trainees see people at a reduced rate. The people training to be psychologists, social workers, and family therapists have to get on-the-job experience. And if you’re worried about seeing a trainee: not only are they getting training, they will also be supervised by someone who’s licensed.
6. Consider group therapy or support groups, which are cheaper or free. Support groups– which are kind of like group therapy, but with an emphasis on education and community– are a low-cost or free option. Look into: NAMI, SAMHSA, & 211.
7. Utilize short-term crisis lines and long-term peer counseling services (which are free, from organizations like Project LETS.
8. Most therapists take on a number of clients for free, so don’t be afraid to ask if they have pro bono spots open. Every licensed clinician has an ethics code that they adhere to and part of that ethics code says that they’re supposed to provide some of their services free of charge as a gesture of goodwill.
9. If you’re a student, take advantage of your free campus resources– then ask for a student discount elsewhere when you exhaust those.
10. The Psychology Today Therapist finder is a great resource to find providers who offer a sliding scale– just mark it on your search settings.
Above all, the most important thing you can do is to advocate for yourself. Nothing is more important than your health, especially your mental health. There ARE people out there who want to help you, but you have to tell them you need their help, otherwise they won’t know!