There’s a little rumor (not totally unfounded) that mental health care is expensive and therefore unattainable for most… I mean comedian Hasan Minhaj did an entire episode about it on his Netflix show. While it’s true there are still barriers to getting mental health care for many, there are loads of free resources available you might not know about.
These tools could help you better manage your mind in the day-to-day without adding a cent to your budget — something we can all get behind. Add these free resources to your mental health toolbox for a healthier mind.
Did you know many state and local governments offer free mental health resources? Now you do, fam. Here in Indiana, the state offers resources online at Be Well Indiana. On the site, you’ll find things like mental health assessments, tips for taking care of your mind, and phone numbers for a variety of mental health and recovery hotlines. If you live in another state, be sure to check what programs are available to you. But wait, there’s more! You’ll also find links to national mental health organizations where you can get even more free resources. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Mindfulness practices have many benefits and can assist you in your mental health journey. How, you might ask? Meditation encourages you to feel your emotions without judging them. Many of us are used to numbing or dissociating from our minds and bodies during times of stress either because we’ve decided it’s not safe to feel our emotions then and there, or we simply don’t want to. Meditation provides a safe (and free) space to observe your emotions and how they physically feel in your body. Pretty cool, right?
Use an app like Insight Timer, which has hundreds of free recorded meditations to choose from. If you’re feeling particularly triggered one day, stopping to focus on your breathing can do wonders to help you through the stress.
There’s no reason to feel shame about asking for help, and hotlines are always open (literally 24/7/365) to support you as you work through a crisis. If you ever find yourself in a situation that’s too much to handle on your own, we encourage you to contact one of these numbers from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Your Local Library
My bias may be showing with this one but when I’m feeling down, the first place I head is my local library. And no, it’s not just for the comforting smell of old books and the reassuring smile of the kindly librarian who has worked there since I was a kid (though this helps). Libraries are a free resource and a great place to go when you’re looking for information on mental health.
Obviously, a book won’t have the same effect as counseling, medication, or a crisis hotline if you’re dealing with a serious mental health condition. But when it comes to DIY solutions, reading up on how to better manage your social anxiety or codependency could give you some new tools and a fresh perspective. Additionally, you might find some great memoirs or stories written by authors about their experiences with mental health issues – it’s always good to know you’re not alone!
You might be thinking, “Hey, therapy’s not free!” And you might be wrong. If you have employer-sponsored insurance, there’s a chance you could find a therapist for free or cheap (like under $50 a session cheap). Call your healthcare provider and ask for a list of therapists in your area who take your insurance. They may even have a list or search tool online you can peruse. Once you’ve found the one, call to set up an appointment and ask them what your copay would be. If it’s too much, repeat these steps with the others in your provider network. While this process can be frustrating and time-consuming, don’t give up! You may end up finding a therapist you can afford, but if you can’t, we encourage you to take advantage of all of the free resources listed above — your mental health is too important not to, babe.