The United States’ first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline went live on Saturday, July 16. It is designed to be as easy to remember and use as 911, but instead of a dispatcher sending police, firefighters or paramedics, 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors.
The federal government has provided over $280 million to help states create systems that will do much more, including mobile mental health crisis teams that can be sent to people’s homes and emergency mental health centers, similar to urgent care clinics that treat physical aches and pains.
“This is one of the most exciting things that has happened” in mental health care, said Dr Brian Hepburn, a psychiatrist who heads the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.
Hepburn cautions that when 988 kicks off, it will not be like “the flick of a switch. It’s going to take a number of years in order for us to be able to reach everybody across the country.”
Some states already have comprehensive mental health crisis systems, but others have a long way to go. And widespread shortages of mental health specialists are expected to slow their ability to expand services.
A RAND Corp survey published last month found that fewer than half of state or regional public health officials were confident about being ready for 988, which is expected to generate an influx of calls.
Nearly 60% said call-center staffers had specialized suicide prevention training; half said they had mobile crisis response teams available 24/7 with licensed counselors; and fewer than one-third had urgent mental-health care units.
The 988 system will build on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an existing network of over 200 crisis centers nationwide staffed by counselors who answer millions of calls each year — about 2.4 million in 2020. Calls to the old lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, will still go through even with 988 in place.
“If we can get 988 to work like 911 … lives will be saved,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Dispatching paramedics for heart attacks and police for crimes makes sense — but not for psychiatric emergencies, mental health advocates say. Calls to 911 for those crises often lead to violent law enforcement encounters and trips to jail or crowded emergency rooms where suicidal people can wait days for treatment.
The 988 system “is a real opportunity to do things right,” said Hannah Wesolowski of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Sustained funding will be needed. According to the National Academy of State Health Policy, four states have enacted laws to impose telecommunications fees to support 988 and many others are working on the issue.
A desperate call to a Utah state senator in 2013 helped spark the idea of a three-digit mental health crisis line.
Senator Daniel Thatcher says a good friend sought his help after taking his suicidal son to an emergency room, only to be told by a doctor to come back if the boy hurt himself.
Thatcher has battled depression, and at 17 he also considered suicide. He knew that despondent people in crisis may lack the wherewithal to seek out help or to remember the 10-digit national suicide lifeline number.
Thatcher found that many of Utah’s in-state crisis lines went straight to police dispatchers or voicemail. He wondered why there was no 911 service for mental health, and the idea got national attention after he mentioned it to longtime Sen Orrin Hatch.
In 2020, Congress passed the bill designating the 3-digit crisis number and then-President Donald Trump signed it into law.
Thatcher’s mother was a nurse and knew where to get him help. He says 988 has the potential to make it that easy for others.
“If you get help, you live. It really is that simple,” Thatcher said.
NAMI FAQ Site
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has published a comprehensive FAQ site — review it by visiting nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/PDFs/NAMI-FAQs-for-Nationwide-Availability-of-988.pdf.
The Q&A content of the site highlights the following:
Can I only call or text 988 if I am experiencing a life-threatening crisis?
No, you can call or text 988 for yourself or a loved one if you are in any type of emotional distress. However, if you are not in a crisis, there are other services that may meet your current needs better, including a peer-support Warmline for emotional support or the NAMI HelpLine (1-800-950-NAMI or firstname.lastname@example.org) for information, resources and support.
How can I reach 988? Only by phone?
You can call 988, text 988 or chat via the Lifeline’s website (988lifeline.org).
What happens when I call 988? What information will I receive, or does the Lifeline only offer immediate crisis support?
The goal of the 988 Lifeline is to provide free, confidential, immediate crisis intervention and support. When you call or text or chat 988:
- You’ll hear a message that you’ve reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — you are in the right place! If you are a veteran, you can press “1” to reach the Veterans’ Crisis Line or “2” to reach the Spanish subnetwork for the Lifeline.
- If you don’t select either option, a trained crisis counselor will answer.
- The counselor will listen to you to understand how your problem is affecting you or your loved one.
- The counselor will provide support and share resources and referrals.
In some communities, the crisis line may be able to connect you to additional services or follow up with you to ensure you’ve connected with care (note: not all communities have this capacity).
Can I only call 988 for myself, or can I call for someone else I know or see in crisis?
You can call or text 988 if you are concerned about someone else in distress who may need crisis support.
Does 988 collect my information/data? What do they do with that information?
All contacts with the 988 Lifeline from people seeking help are confidential. According to the Lifeline FAQs, information about callers/chatters/texters will not be shared outside the Lifeline without documented verbal or written consent from the person seeking help, except in cases where there is imminent risk of harm to self or someone else, or where otherwise required by law.
The Lifeline protects all the confidential and identifying information shared. During your contact with the 988 Lifeline, you may voluntarily share certain information about yourself that could be identified, and that information may be documented in notes about your conversation. The center may also have access to the phone number or IP address you used to contact the Lifeline.
You will never be required to provide other identifying information to receive help from the Lifeline. The Lifeline may use de-identified and aggregated data for reports to stakeholders, funders and policymakers about the numbers and types of conversations they have with people in crisis. They might also reference the general aggregate demographics of people seeking help from the Lifeline.
CTMirror and Associated Press content from Lindsay Tanner is used in this report.
A CRFC is a specialty trained LPC in the culture and unique needs of first responders. First responders have unique jobs, they have experiences that others don’t have, and they have mental health needs that are not commonly experienced by civilians. As a Certified First Responder Counselor, a counselor is specially trained to understand the needs of these individuals, including the importance of confidentiality and trust.
Benefits of Working with a Certified First Responder Counselor:
Specialized knowledge of the first responder and law enforcement officer culture, special mental health needs, and expectations.
Informed of trends and news that matter to your responder counseling practice.
Continuing education to stay current on responder needs and challenges.
A CFRC will help to guide, support and understand the following:
- The mentality of a Law Enforcement Officer
- The perspective of a First Responder
- The culture / family of response teams
- The trauma of being a responder
- The triad of health & well-being in regard to safety
- Suicide in law enforcement
- Warrior mentality
- Peer support vs Peer pressure
- Denial, Job Security, and other reasons to resist counseling
- The spouse, children, family of a responder
- The real goal of helping a responder
- The importance of self-debriefing as a responder counselor
- Confidentiality and trust
- Rapport with a warrior
- Other issues related specifically to working in a counselor role with a First Responder
Mental Health Resources: 80 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford a Therapist
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Chesak — Written by Katherine Schreiber
Featured on greatist.com
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 health care out there designed to help you with just about every issue.
Whether your issue is kicking an addiction, managing your emotions, finding a group of like-minded peers, or recovering from trauma, affordable help is available. Even better? Some of these resources are available whenever you need them.
We’ve rounded up 80 of the very best affordable (or free) mental health resources. Keep this list handy for whenever you need support.
- ACT Coach
ACT Coach, developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, teaches users how to tolerate negative thoughts and feelings.
The app virtually guides people through awareness exercises and gives tips on how to ditch self-doubt. With an extra focus on mindfulness, this app also provides a log to track your progress.
Designed by therapist Rosemary Sword, this app offers mind-balancing exercises to help you relax, focus, and develop a sense of well-being.
The app offers meditations, guided visualization exercises, and a self-discovery quiz. The approach is based on Time Perspective Therapy, a method to curb unhelpful or obsessive thoughts. The app offers information and research on this approach.
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 (read: breathe down into the low belly).
There’s educational videos on the stress response, logs to record stress levels, and customizable guided breathing sessions.
- DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach
This app works as a daily mood and thought diary based on the dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) approach. It has a coaching module that gives tips on sticky emotional situations, like how to ask for what you need or how to successfully resolve conflict.
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.
- Depression CBT Self-Help Guide
Need help managing the blues? This app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps you monitor dips in your mood and learn about clinical depression and treatments.
You can also try guided relaxation techniques in the app’s Relaxation Audio. You can learn strategies to challenge negative thinking with the Emotion Training audio and the Cognitive Thought Diary. There is a motivation points system that will keep you engaged.
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.
Formerly called Pacifica, the Sanvello app teaches techniques for dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress. It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It teaches through a combination of: videos
mood and health habit tracking
Sanvello is integrated with Apple Health, so you can input exercise, sleep, and caffeine figures. Sanvello also tracks Mindfulness Minutes in Apple Health, based on your meditation practice.
You can also connect to a community of users where other people post on a variety of topics, including personal strategies and words of encouragement.
Daylio is a journaling and mood-tracking app. Tracking moods can help you tune in to the positive things in your life. You enter your moods by choosing icons from Daylio’s large online database. Daylio also offers a journaling function to write about your activities.
This straightforward stress management tool helps users rethink what’s stressing them out through a variety of onscreen prompts. The app encourages new ways to take charge of anxiety and tune into body signals based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- 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. The app uses GPS to locate mental health care services nearby, should any user enter crisis mode.
- PTSD Coach
If you suffer from PTSD symptoms, this 24-hour tool can be very valuable. It’s linked directly to support services. PTSD Coach is available as an app or through a browser online.
You’ll select the specific issue you want to deal with, from anxiety and anger, to insomnia and alienation. The app then gives you guidance on how to lift your mood, shift your mindset, and reduce stress.
- Quit It
If you’re a smoker, you probably already know all about the health consequences of smoking. But that knowledge probably doesn’t stop you from lighting up.
This app’s approach is different from that of other stop-smoking apps. It shows you the hit your wallet takes every time you get another pack.
Even better: Quit It calculates how much money you save each time you don’t smoke. Think of it as extra financial incentive to kick nicotine and tobacco, and save for something far better.
- Quit Pro
Think of this as a fitness tracker for your smoking habit. It monitors 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.
By keeping track of your quitting progress and offering you motivational messages and statistics along the way, this comprehensive app is a much better thing to have in your back pocket than a pack of smokes.
The SAM (Self-Help for Anxiety Management) app lets you know what’s pushing you over the edge, so you can 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.
SAM takes it to the next level by offering a “Social Cloud” feature that allows users to confidentially share their progress with an online community for added support.
- Stop, Breathe, Think!
Got 5 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.
Skeptical? Well, consider that mindfulness and happiness tend to go hand-in-hand. And, as added incentive, this app can also improve your focus.
- 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.
Take advantage of the reminder feature that gives periodic chimes to prompt you to breathe and focus on the good throughout the day.
- Stress and Anxiety Companion
Sure, we know that releasing negative thoughts, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in mindful awareness is good for our well-being. But that doesn’t mean we actually do all of that.
This app can help make the wellness 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.
Additional features allow you to identify anxiety triggers to make sure they don’t catch you off guard.
Bet you didn’t think you could chat with a therapist every day of the week. Well, Talkspace makes that possible. For a low fee, you can text message with a trained professional as needed, and they’ll respond 1–2 times per day.
Talkspace offers services for both individuals and couples. Oh, and the best part? You can do it from your couch, not someone else’s. The app is free to download, but service plans will cost some dough.
- Worry Watch
Many of us get anxious at times, 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 kick-starts their anxiety, note trends in their feelings, observe when the outcomes were harmless, and keep tabs on insights to stop future freak-outs.
To lower your anxiety even further, Worry Watch is password-protected, so whatever you divulge in the diary feature is safe and sound.
Websites, online support, and forums
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation
People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) 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.
It’s all laid out here — resources for better understanding the problem, seeking treatment, spreading the word about the disorder, and more.
- Center for Complicated Grief
Hosted by the Center for Complicated Grief, this site offers help for those who feel “stuck” in grief. Instead of healing after the loss of a loved ones, those with complicated grief continue to have difficulty managing painful emotions, troubling thoughts, and dysfunctional behavior.
The website provides resources including articles, research, social support groups, and organizations to connect with when healing from the loss of a loved one. It also offers a self-assessment tool to see if you’re experiencing complicated grief.
- 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 United States to advocacy groups and educational services.
- LGBT National Help Center
A great resource for people 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. Chats are open during 1–9 p.m. (PST) during the week and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. (PST) on Saturday.
- Healing From BPD
For anyone with borderline personality disorder, this peer-run Facebook group 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 situation, and help them navigate the darkest and most difficult emotional times.
- International OCD Foundation
This website offers an invaluable space for those struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It offers many links, resources, and opportunities to either get involved or get help in the ongoing fight to preserve mental health.
Find help, learn more about the illness, find out about events, get help and support, or share your own personal story to the community.
The main goal of this government-sponsored resource: Educate as many people as possible about the realities of mental illness in America, while offering resources to those seeking help. The site is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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.
Support is provided for almost any aspect of mental health, including:
trauma and stress-related disorders
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
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 the government’s recognition of mood and behavioral disorders will get the full scoop here.
Arguably the most helpful resource is the heart-wrenching and hopeful personal stories from individuals across the country from individuals sharing their accounts of living with mental illness.
- National Center for Victims of Crime
This resource enables victims of all types of crimes (think: bullying, physical abuse, stalking, and even terrorism) to secure the help they need. Services are anonymous and confidential, with no collection of phone numbers or IP addresses.
Individuals in need can access the center’s Victim Connect Resource Center to get immediate help via chat or phone, report a crime, read about victim rights and how to get a protective or restraining order. Information is also available about financial and legal avenues of help.
- National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
A pioneer in the education and treatment for eating disorders, the National Eating Disorders Association of America (NEDA) extends a wide range of support services, learning tools, and opportunities to advocate on behalf of those with an eating disorder.
The website offers information about the various types of eating orders, plus a list of recovery resources. There is also a hotline where you can get immediate help if you need it.
Anyone wanting to learn how to support a family member or friend affected by an eating disorder can download the Parent Toolkit. It provides answers to questions about the signs of an eating disorder, symptoms and medical consequences, and treatment and levels of care.
- National Institute of Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) site is one of the most comprehensive and trusted sources for information about mental illness. It’s 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 the NIMH site.
This site is designed for teens and young adults with mental illness. It 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. Spend some time here, and you’ll soon be reassured that whatever you’re struggling with, you’re most certainly not alone.
- Stalking Resource Center
You probably already know that 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.
The Stalking Resource Center presents a number of options for anyone struggling with endless unwanted attention or obsessive behavior. Use their VictimConnect phone helpline if you need help. But dial 911 if you are in immediate danger.
You can also download a brochure explaining what stalking is (and how to tell if you’re being followed). Learn how to develop a safety plan, and when to call the police. You’ll find encouragement to trust your instincts and take threats seriously.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
This resource is chock-full of data, research insights, treatment options, and educational tools about substance dependencies and mood or behavioral issues. It’s provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services primarily to help those with substance abuse issues.
This site also offers training and grant application resources to people interested in becoming practitioners in the substance abuse field.
Its Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center provides communities, clinicians, and policy-makers with information and tools to incorporate practices into their communities.
- 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.
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Hotlines and call centers
- Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center
Get support now: 1-888-694-2273
If you’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), or you have a hunch you or a loved one may be displaying symptoms of BPD, this hotline may be able to help. It provides education about BPD and connects you to established resources for treatment and support.
The Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center hotline is monitored by certified social workers. They can provide immediate over-the-phone crisis counseling and can refer you to local resources in your area.
- Disaster Distress Hotline
Get support now: 1-800-985-5990
If you’re a survivor 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 experiencing distress in the wake of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts, and earthquakes, as well as incidences of mass violence or health epidemics.
The call center is also open to friends and family members of survivors of disaster. An alternative way to connect: Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
- Friendship Line
Get support now: 1-800-971-0016
Friendship Line is the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free crisis line for people aged 60 years and older, and adults living with disabilities. This nationwide hotline reaches out to lonely, depressed, isolated, frail older adults who are depressed, and who may be considering suicide.
Trained volunteers offer a caring ear and a friendly conversation with depressed older adults. They provide emotional support as well as active suicide intervention. They also provide information and referrals, elder abuse reporting, well-being checks, and grief support.
In addition to receiving incoming calls on the hotline, Friendship Line also reaches out to eligible callers by connecting with them on a regular basis and helping monitor their physical and mental health.
- LGBT National Help Line
Get support now: 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? You can find a sympathetic ear on 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.
- LGBT National Talkline for Youth
Get support now: 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.
This help line is similar to the national help line, but this version is for young LGBTQ-identified individuals. You can dial in to talk about hardships you face in your day-to-day lives, as well as access resources to help bolster you into your 20s and beyond.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Get support now: 1-800-273-8255
This suicide prevention hotline is available 24/7 to offer a compassionate ear — no matter what you’re dealing with. Their primary aim is to keep you going, even in the darkest of times. Pour your heart out to a skilled staffer without fear of being judged.
If you’d like referrals to local mental health care services after your call, hotline representatives can set you up.
- Veterans Crisis Line
Get support now: 1-800-273-8255
This is a crisis support line specifically for veterans and active service members, especially for those contemplating suicide. It is conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
It also offers help with other mental health issues, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and substance abuse.
Although there are other mental health hotlines, some of them may not know how to support the veteran or service member in their life who is going through a difficult time. The line is also available to family and friends of veterans and service members.
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Get support now: 1-630-577-1330
Need more info on eating disorders? Looking for treatment for yourself, a friend, or a loved one? The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) national helpline is here for you. It is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday.
Whether you’re looking for immediate counseling or recommendations for treatment and support, this is the number to call. People who prefer to connect with a volunteer or counselor but would prefer not to do it by phone can take advantage of ANAD’s services via email.
Get support now: 1-855-484-2846
If you’ve been the victim of any type of crime, this toll-free, confidential helpline can connect you with the resources that best address your current situation. It is offered by the National Center for Victims of Crime.
This is a centralized hotline that can refer you to whatever help you may need, from directing you to specific counseling centers and resources to connecting you with legal advice. Whatever the crime, this hotline is a trustworthy first step in getting you the assistance you need.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
Get support now: 1-800-799-7233
Trained domestic violence advocates are available 24/7 to help those involved in abusive or dangerous home situations. To receive immediate counseling free of charge and gain access to local resources to implement a safety plan and find refuge, make the call.
Help is available free of charge to anyone regardless of sexual orientation or home situation. If it is not convenient or safe to talk, you can use the chatline 24/7. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- National Eating Disorder Association Helpline
Get support now: 1-800-931-2237
Need some help figuring out who to turn to when dealing with an eating disorder, perhaps your own or someone else’s? Call a trained NEDA representative at this hotline and they’ll provide you with information about eating disorders, treatment options, and referrals.
The helpline is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST), and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST), with holiday closures.
- National Organization for Victim Assistance
Get support now: 1-800-879-6682
Whether you’re a victim or a witness to a crime (or even if you’re a criminal justice or mental health professional seeking services for a client), NOVA’s Victim Assistance Helpline can assist you. The helpline is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.
Though the association doesn’t offer counseling, NOVA representatives can connect you within minutes to a counseling hotline that best fits your needs. They also provide information about crime and crisis recovery, as well as referrals to victim advocacy.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
Get support now: 1-800-656-4673
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’ve been sexually assaulted. This hotline can offer counsel and link you to resources that can help you navigate this traumatic situation.
The group’s website also hosts a free and confidential online chat, if that’s easier than picking up the phone. The website also offers information about sexual assault, and tips for prevention and recovery.
- Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous Nationwide Conference Call
Get support now: 1-712-432-0075
Maybe you want to connect with others who can relate to the obsessions or compulsions that are weighing on you, but you can’t attend in-person meetings. That’s where this call center can step in.
The conference call can help lift you out of isolation and link you up with peers who know exactly what you’re going through. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, OCA’s conference calls follow the basic format of a 12-step meeting.
Participation in the conference calls is free, except for the cost of the telephone call. They ask that you become familiar with the 12-step process before participating.
Visit the group’s website for times of the conference calls, plus additional resources related to OCD. Some conferences focus on specific topics, such as Trichotillomania (hair-pulling, including skin-picking and nail-biting) and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).
- Samaritan’s Crisis Hotline
Get support now: 1-212-673-3000
Staffed by trained volunteers, this 24/7 suicide prevention hotline is free of charge and available to extend a compassionate, nonjudgmental ear when you’re in crisis. This is the ideal resource for anyone who can’t afford therapy but desperately needs to talk and be heard.
Call the Samaritans morning, noon, or night if you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or isolated and can’t turn to family and friends. They will help you deal with every kind of problem, illness, trauma, or loss you have experienced.
The hotline provides those in crisis (as well as the people who care for them) with a 24-hour safety net. It is intended to be used to fill in gaps in service, bridge the time between therapy appointments, and act as a source of ongoing emotional maintenance.
- Trevor Lifeline
Get support now: 1-866-488-7386
For LGBTQ+ youth who need help grappling with urges to self-harm or thoughts of suicide, this number can literally be a lifeline. Available free of charge and at all hours, this number is manned by a trained staffer ready to field your call.
During your call, you can open up about whatever issues you’re facing. Not into phone calls? Access TrevorChat on the website to text with a skilled support line responder.
- Crisis Call Center
Get support now: 1-800-273-8255
Another 24-hour helpline, this crisis call center gives Nevada residents support for emotional distress — whatever the reason — and connects them with resources throughout the state that they can access.
Pick up the phone when you need to talk, or text “CARE” to 839863 to connect. This helpline covers almost any aspect of mental health, including:
depression and suicide
Addiction support groups
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), one of the earliest support groups, has been helping alcoholics since 1935. The program describes its approach as “spiritual” and focuses on owning your errors, assessing your character, and making amends.
Today it has more than 2 million members worldwide and welcomes people of any age and all political, sexual, and gender orientations. No dues or fees are required.
Sometimes the issue is not your drinking, but that of a friend or family member whose issues with alcohol have disrupted your life. Al-Anon supports individuals affected by others’ alcoholism and even offers a specialized program for teens (Alateen).
- Cocaine Anonymous
Started in Los Angeles in 1982, Cocaine Anonymous (CA) counts around 30,000 members across the globe. As its name implies, CA is modeled after the 12 steps and peer-support design of AA.
People wrestling with addictions to other substances in addition to cocaine are also welcome to address that here. Meetings are free and open to all. The only requirement: You want to stop using.
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
Crystal Meth Anonymous was also born out of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). After witnessing an upsurge of crystal meth addicts joining AA to get sober, one former addict began this offshoot in 1994.
He figured meth addicts could benefit from a 12-step model, but they needed their own tailored version of support. Turns out that hunch was right, as today you can find more than 600 CMA meetings worldwide.
- Dual Recovery Anonymous
Dual Recovery Anonymous offers a specialized 12-step program for folks grappling with chemical dependencies on top of emotional and psychological disorders.
Similar to other 12-step peer support programs, the only requirement for entry is a desire to get sober and, in this case, a desire to manage your mood.
- Gamblers Anonymous
The 12-step system doesn’t just apply to substances. People who find themselves frequently in debt or otherwise stressed by excessive gambling habits have made good use of this support group. Gamblers Anonymous is no newcomer to support groups. It’s been available since 1957.
Gambling disorder is now a mental health disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
LifeRing provides forums and face-to-face meetings to help people who wish to be sober design their own recoveries in a way that makes sense for them. LifeRing doesn’t involve any official “steps.” And there’s no need for sponsorship here, either.
Just click the “Find a Meeting” link on the website, and then show up at the meeting. If you don’t live close to a meeting or if you’re more comfortable online, you can participate in the online meetings, email groups, or online forums and chat rooms.
- Marijuana Anonymous
Sure, pot is now legal in many states, but like other legal substances (ahem, alcohol) that doesn’t mean it won’t trigger addiction issues. This group is for people who have found marijuana is a larger part of their lives than they would like.
If your tokes are getting in the way of your life, these meetings can help bring back some balance. You can find a list of meetings across the U.S. on the website. The only requirement for attendance is the desire to stop using marijuana. No fees or dues are required.
- Narcotics Anonymous
Designed for drug addicts grappling with all types of chemical dependencies, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) models itself after, you guessed it, the traditions and steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Narcotics Anonymous has been in the business of keeping people around the world drug-free since 1953, holding 67,000 meetings weekly in 139 countries. You can find a meeting to attend by using the website’s “Meeting Search” selection.
Nar-Anon offers support to the family members and friends of people struggling with addiction, similar to Al-Anon and Alateen. Meetings give a safe space for people to sort out their feelings and make sense of their loved one’s addictive behavior and its impact on their lives.
Nar-Anon is an international organization that offers meetings around the world. You can find a local meeting using the “Find a Meeting” link on the website.
If there isn’t one, you can set up your own group. The group uses the 12-step approach and offers outreach materials to orient you.
- Overeaters Anonymous
Yes, you can get hooked on the highs associated with food. Though food addiction is a controversial topic, a recent review of medical literature supported the existence of such a diagnosis, particularly related to foods high in added sweeteners and refined ingredients.Trusted Source
Thankfully, there are over 6,500 Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings across the globe designed in the 12-step spirit of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
You, or someone close to you, can get help managing compulsive eating habits and cultivating a healthier relationship with food.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous
We’re all for a healthy and happy sex life. But sometime people use sex to self-medicate, self-destruct, and, in the process, wreak havoc on their own and others’ well-being.
Sex addiction is a controversial topic, but what doctors call “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” is more common that you might think.
In a survey reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 8.6 percent of patients reported difficulty controlling sexual feelings, urges, and behavior. Trusted Source
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) hosts meetings across the globe to help men and women learn to manage their behavior, gain insight into their impulses, and start their recovery through peer support using the 12-step process.
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety
SOS is a network of independent nonprofessional local groups worldwide that help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety in the areas of alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, and more.
SOS backs individual empowerment, while also declaring a strong respect for science and a healthy skepticism around traditional addiction treatments. You can find a meeting of a group near you on the SOS website.
- SMART Recovery
Twelve-step programs not your thing? No problem. SMART recovery offers another alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and related organizations.
Modeled after research-based cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, SMART meetings do not require you to identify as an addict or alcoholic. The meetings are also less steeped in spirituality and their process puts greater emphasis on empowering members.
The group isn’t exclusively for alcoholics. SMART doors are open to individuals struggling with all types of addictions.
- Women For Sobriety
Women For Sobriety (WFS) is based on the belief that there’s a gender divide when it comes to getting clean. WFS aims to bolster women’s self-worth, personal responsibility, and problem-solving skills.
Instead of 12 steps, WFS offers a variety of strategies to practice acceptance and avoid getting stuck in the past. Groups are available in the U.S. and Canada. Women only, please.
Other support groups
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
If you’ve lost someone you love to suicide, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) support groups will give you a place to discuss your feelings and manage grief in the company of others who get it — because they’ve been there too.
While some meetings take place during a set time span, others are ongoing and open to attendees showing up as frequently as they wish. You can find a list of meetings on the AFSP website.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers an extensive, searchable list of free or affordable resources that cater to specific anxieties, phobias, and mood issues.
The organization also offers resources for general support for negative thinking habits and behavior patterns, relationship problems, and self-esteem issues.
- Co-Dependents Anonymous
If you struggle with low self-esteem and find yourself frequently sucked into unhealthy relationships where your needs remain unmet or minimized, this support group can help you set healthy boundaries.
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDa) meetings are modeled after Alcohol Anonymous’s 12 steps. They seek to empower individuals to break free from self-destructive habits and develop healthier relationships.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
This alliance offers more than 700 national groups that provide peer support. It’s a judgment-free discussion zone where you can open up about life’s challenges brought on by living with depression or bipolar disorder.
DBSA is based on the principle that support is essential to recovery. You can find both online and in-person groups on their website. The best part? All groups are totally free.
- Emotions Anonymous
Even if you don’t have addiction issues, you can still apply the 12-step model to manage negative thinking, self-esteem issues, loneliness, and other destructive feelings with the support of more than 1,000 Emotions Anonymous (EA) meetings worldwide.
And if you are wrestling with substance or behavioral addictions, you’re still welcome to attend. EA offers in-person groups, as well as phone, Skype, and online chat groups.
- GLBT Near Me
The GLBT National Resource Database offers more than 1,000 support services for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, and ages.
Plug your zip code into their handy local resource finder and you’ll be connected to an affordable (if not entirely free) support group catered to your needs that’s close to home.
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
These eating disorder support groups come in a few different formats. Most are led by a psychotherapist, while others are run by a nutritionist. All are free.
The main goal of these programs is to offer a safe space for people struggling with disordered eating to openly discuss what they’re going through and receive guidance on how they can heal. To find the closest one to you, click your state on ANAD’s support groups page.
- National Eating Disorders Association
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) offers an extensive list of support groups for individuals with eating disorders. All you have to do is plug your state into their online search engine to find groups nearby.
For those who want more personalized peer support, check out NEDA Navigator, a program that connects individuals looking to overcome disordered eating with a person who’s been there and can act as a guide during recovery.
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
If you’re a friend, family member, or parent of someone who identifies anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, PFLAG is your go-to resource for all things related to education, advocacy, and social outreach.
PFLAG can also help those struggling to come to terms with a loved one’s sexual or gender orientation. Plug in your hometown to their online search engine to find a local chapter.
- Heal Grief
At some point in our lives, all of us will have to wrestle with the many stages of grief. It helps if we’ve got people to talk to about our loss — especially someone in the midst of a similar grieving process, or someone who has come through to the other side.
Heal Grief’s support services extend across America. You can locate nearby services via the Resources drop-down menu on the website. Heal Grief also offers information, a Mourner’s Bill of Rights, and a page where you can make a memorial for a loved one — even a pet!
- International OCD Foundation
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though often referred to as a personality trait, is actually a very real mental health condition. According to the International OCD Foundation, it affects approximately 2.3 percent of adults in the United States.
Thankfully, there’s a ton of support out there, and it’s likely closer than you think. Check out the listings on the International OCD Foundation’s website to find a group near you.
- Sidran’s HelpDesk
The Sidran Institute offers services for all kinds of people grappling with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), from military vets to white-collar workers.
Trauma can trigger a huge amount of emotional distress, and, without help, some people can be debilitated by their symptoms. If you’re experiencing the shockwaves of PTSD, contact Sidran to get more info on support groups.
- TLC Foundation
The TLC Foundation helps people manage body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), such as hair-pulling and skin-picking.
Trichotillomania, perhaps the best-known BFRB, is an obsessive-compulsive disorder where those affected compulsively pull out their hair or incessantly pick at their skin. Symptoms can be damaging, and so can the isolation people feel with this disorder.
This organization’s support groups can help people manage their impulses, find better coping skills for their anxiety, and find company in their struggle.
Libraries and podcasts
Many traditional resources are now available online in digital formats. For example, self-help books are often available for free as audiobooks from your public library.
Also, you can find a wide variety of podcasts and interviews on mental health topics at online radio and television stations, as well as on YouTube.
For example, the BBC broadcasts of Dr. Claire Weekes, the Australian doctor known for her personal and down-to-earth approach to treating anxiety, are available in audiobooks from your library, as well as on YouTube.
Online mental health resources can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, technology has made new options available for support. However, these resources carry drawbacks as well. Be sure to use common sense and caution when tapping into a new online resource.
The National Institute of Mental Health has prepared a useful summary of the pros and cons to be aware of when choosing online mental health care. The pros are pretty obvious:
easy access to information
The cons are not as easy to see. The biggest concern is that online mental health resources are not regulated. Some may not be backed by scientific evidence and programs may be “oversold.” Privacy is also a big concern, as you may be asked for very personal data.
Also be aware of hidden costs. Some apps are free to download, but subscription costs to actually use the app can be substantial. Also, most subscriptions are time-limited with auto-renewal, so you keep paying every month or quarter until you manually cancel.
Our list of resources come from established organizations with good reputations. Still, it’s always good to approach any online resource with caution and preparation. Ensure your privacy, and make sure ahead of time that the program is a good fit for what you need.
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Chesak — Written by Katherine Schreiber — Updated on October 16, 2019
Written by Katherine Schreiber, on The Great List.
Pretty much everyone could benefit from therapy. But not everyone can afford it. Thankfully, there’s a whole world of free or affordable mental health care out there designed to help you with just about every issue.
Whether your issue is kicking an addiction, managing your emotions, finding a group of like-minded peers, or recovering from trauma, affordable help is available. Even better? Some of these resources are available whenever you need them.
We’ve rounded up 80 of the very best affordable (or free) mental health resources. Keep this list handy for whenever you need support.Continue reading “Free or Affordable Mental Health Resources for Everyone”