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How to Find Low-Cost Mental Health Care

Updated on May 27, 2012

Low-Cost Mental Health Services

"Health care is as expensive to treat as cancer. Surprised? You shouldn't be. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about half of all people suffer from a mental health disorder.The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics indicate that 50% of the world’s population has some form of mental illness. Studies show that less than 50% of these affected individuals get any kind of mental health care. The high cost of mental health care seems to deny people of their right to health. This need not be the end of the road for affordable mental health care. Low cost or even free mental health care is readily available near you. You can get the necessary mental health care even in the community which you live, no matter in which part of the world you are. Various governmental organizations, social service organizations, religious institutions, educational institutions, community health care centers, etc. could be the best places to look for help if you need free or low-cost mental health care.


Do all Mental Health Conditions Need Hospital Care?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". Taking this definition into consideration, not every form of mental illness, or what falls under the purview of mental illness, needs hospitalization or outpatient care.

Most of these conditions are not very serious, although they are stressful. You can take advantage of various counseling services and therapies that are offered, especially for these conditions.

The Top Five Most Expensive Health Conditions

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS),
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), | Source

Community Mental Health Care Services that are Readily Available

If you are employed, you should take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program. This program offering free counseling services aims to nip mental illness in the bud.

Various toll-free services and 24-hour hotlines are available in each country to take distress calls as a part of suicide prevention programs. In some countries where the stress on education is very high, these services are available during the months of tests/exams, when students are under high pressure. Students can speak to a counselor on the toll free number and free of charge.

Similarly, various self-help groups offer group therapy for different kinds of problems. You can take advantage of these programs, since they are run by qualified professionals.

There could be various philanthropic organizations or ethnic community services in each community which offers free counseling services in areas such as family therapy, marriage counseling, teen guidance programs, child guidance clinics. Psychologists and/or psychiatric social workers often run these services, so you can rest assured that you’ll get quality mental health care, even though most of these mental health services are free.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Alert Support

(800 273-TALK),

Free 24-hour service supported by the federal government.

If you belong to a religious community, especially if you are a member of a church, services like teen counseling, marital counseling, family counseling etc., come free of charge. Pastors and clergy are mostly trained counselors themselves and you can be assured of getting timely help.

Group therapies
Various self-help groups like the Alcoholics Anonymous(AA), self-help groups for the mentally challenged, groups for battered women etc., function regularly under the supervision of trained professionals. You not only get good advice and counseling here, but you also tend to build up a good social support system, which helps you overcome the problem.

Have you tried any of the community based mental health care systems?

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Free Mental Health Care for Students

School counselors are available in most schools. Trained professionals are appointed by school boards to provide mental health care for children. When you make use of these mental health services at school, you would not only help children cope with their problems, but you would also find help and cooperation forthcoming from teachers. This makes it easy for parents to work with counsellors and teachers effectively.
Most University campuses also have counselors, or maybe even a small mental health care facility to help to students under stress. It costs little or nothing to make good use of this facility that is provided to students who need mental health care.

There are many of self-help resources available online which you could definitely make use of. You can find excellent resources for almost any kind of problem online; you need to choose these sources with care, though. Many websites offer dubious advice with no credentials. Always check for a disclaimer, and search through many different sites to get a good consensus of advice on your particular problem. If you think you any of these self-help resources would be of use to you, you should try it.

Mental Health Care for serious Mental Health Conditions
In the case of serious mental health issues, you would require psychiatric care, apart from therapeutic help. For such conditions, it would be appropriate to look for services that offer comprehensive mental health care.

Teaching institutions that train psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric social workers would be the first on my list. If you have any in your locality, you should not hesitate to take advantage of this facility. Mental health care in such institutions is one of the best. Although, students are the ones who actually provide mental health care, senior professionals in the field supervise therapy sessions or diagnostic sessions etc. Most therapy sessions are recorded for the supervisor to ensure that the student is progressing with therapy in the right manner, and offering appropriate advice. Since students are being trained here, mental health care in these places are free or are given at nominal costs, but you may have to cope with long queues and waiting hours. I would still consider it quality treatment at a low cost or no cost.

Community health centers run by the state, federal governments or research organizations funded by the council for medical research, often offer quality mental health assistance. These units are designed to reach out into the rural populations where health and mental health care services are scarce. Oftentimes, research units have various programs, which offer treatment free of cost. Check, with your primary health care giver for timely recent information about these resources.

State run medical hospitals or primary health centers often have a psychiatric unit. You can find adequate help from professionals in these units at a fairly low cost.

Alternately, look for mental health care facilities with a sliding fee structure. This system is designed to provide mental health care based on your income. National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) and Mental Health America(MHA) have made it their mission to provide mental health care for every American citizen, so look for a NAMI or MHA affiliate in your area and make good use of these services.

Remember that mental health care need not necessarily be expensive. You have a right to health and you should explore every possible resource in your community to ensure that you live a full and happy life. While seeking free or low-cost mental health care, you may be required to exercise patience and be prepared for a long waiting time. You may even have to knock on many mental health care portals until you find quality care. Always remember that you deserve the best and don’t stop until you find the right kind of mental health care.


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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Cycling fitness, Thanks for adding that useful bit of information for those in UK. I appreciate that very much. Have a great day.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      We almost take our health service for granted in the UK. Alot of our mental health help mechanisms are done for free on the NHS. Great hub thanks for sharing

      I'd recommend if anyone in the UK is viewing this having mental health issues they look out for MIND as they are a good organisation to approach in the UK

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Pamela, I am glad that you are now aware of the magnitude of the problem.. Most people seem to believe that mental health issues are not so prevalent.. Thanks for the visit and the comment. Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Natasha, I appreciate the comment. Thanks and have a great day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Schizophrenia is just the tip of the iceberg... there are many who seemingly function adequately until they fall apart.. mental health care is the need of everyone. Thanks for stopping by , I appreciate this.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Teaches, I am glad that you are the first to comment on this hub. I do hope the information here would be helpful for people looking for mental health care. Your comment is greatly appreciated. Have a lovely day.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I had no idea the percentage was so high for people with mental problems. This is a very good informative article. I think it will help some people that might be seeking help.

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Very easy to read but full of information. I hope this helps someone!

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 

      6 years ago

      Schizophrenia is a physical disease of the brain. I hope everyone who needs help will seek it. Thanks for a great hub. You're helping to erase the stigma around mental health issues. Thank you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This is great information that will help many who seek advice and help on mental health care. 50% of the population stats is high, so I am sure that seeking care is of importance to society in general. Thanks for posting.


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