Accessible Mental Health Resources

Figuring out who to turn to when you need mental health support can be overwhelming. If you’re in need of help, considering turning to one or more of these resources:

In crisis situations:

  • Call or text 988 to connect to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This service offers free and confidential support 24/7 for people in distress.
  • Dial 911 for life-threatening situations and other mental health emergencies. You will be routed to the appropriate public safety agency for help.

For treatment referral and other mental health information:

  • Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline to receive free, confidential treatment referrals and information about mental health and substance use disorders. This 24/7 hotline can be reached at 1-800-622-HELP (4357).

For ongoing support:

  • Consider joining a mental health support group. These groups often help people with mental health issues feel less isolated, and they offer a judgment-free place for people to share their experiences. Fellow support group members can also offer advice based on their own experiences along with the emotional support needed to get through difficult times. There are many options available, including support groups facilitated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

If you want the best expert advice, make an appointment with a mental health professional. While some resources, such as crisis hotlines, are great for finding support on short notice, a mental health professional who can work with you one-on-one over a period of time will be able to provide a better level of care. They can provide detailed assessments and, if there’s a specific condition you’re dealing with, give you a formal diagnosis and help set up the proper treatment program.

The following list includes a number of healthcare professionals specializing in mental health who you can turn to when you need help:

  • Psychiatrists: Can offer therapy, make diagnoses, and prescribe medication.
  • Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners: Can offer therapy and make diagnoses. Can prescribe medication only in certain states.
  • Primary care physicians: Can offer mental health referrals and prescribe medication.
  • Family nurse practitioners: Can offer mental health referrals. Can prescribe medication only in certain states.
  • Psychologists: Can offer individual and group therapy and make diagnoses.
  • Therapists/counselors: Can offer individual and group therapy.
  • Clinical social workers: Can help with case management, advocacy services, and therapeutic techniques.

If you need help finding a mental health provider, start by checking to see what your insurance covers and which providers in your network are available. Your primary care provider can offer specific referrals for mental health treatment. Many employers, schools, and universities offer mental health resources as well, and friends and family members may have recommendations to help you narrow down your options.

Think about which type of care works best for you, whether that’s weekly in-person appointments, telehealth visits as needed, or an intensive workshop or retreat. You can also ask questions at your first appointment, and if you feel like it’s not a good fit, that’s okay. It may take a little time to find the right provider and the right type of care for your needs, but it’s worth the effort to get a deeper level of support from those with mental health expertise.

Resources for Expert Mental Health Advice

Beyond the resources and professionals listed above, where can you do to get advice about mental health? With the growing awareness of mental health issues, there are new sources of advice popping up every day. Self-help books serve as useful reading material for many people concerned with mental wellness, or you can read about specific mental illnesses affecting you or a loved one to better understand them.

In terms of technology, there’s been an absolute explosion of mental health advice available online. There are countless apps focused on mental wellness, like meditation apps and talk therapy apps. You can also turn to online support groups, listen to podcast interviews with mental health experts, or watch TED Talks about stress, anxiety, and depression.

When you use these types of resources, however, look for specific credentials which qualify someone to provide the kind of support you’re looking for. Not all self-help books are written by experts, for example, and following their advice could be counterproductive to your mental health goals. Make sure you’re taking advice from trusted, credible sources, especially since mental health is such a complex issue. And remember that, while some of the advice you come across may be helpful, you still need the support of a mental health professional who can provide individualized care.