Free Mental Health Services That Offer Affordable and Accessible Support
While the seemingly perpetual coronavirus pandemic continues to chug along (two+ years and counting), public health officials have already identified the next global health crisis: the mental health pandemic. And that's arguably not all surprising given the steady stream of new COVID-19 variants, the pervasiveness of gun violence, rampant racism, the latest attack on abortion rights, and return-to-workplace requirements (among so much more).
Simply put, mental health struggles — from heightened stress to increased rates of suicide — "continue to get worse" in the U.S., according to Mental Health America. And, thus, access to affordable, quality mental health care has never been so important. Thankfully, there is a gamut of organizations, trained professionals, and institutions out there providing free mental health services that you can turn to amidst everything you're dealing with now and in the future.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
For most people, learning about the components of mental challenges and illness — how they function, what the symptoms look like, how to recognize them, etc. — is essential for working through their mental health challenges. And now thanks to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) you can score an A+ psychoeducation for free. The nonprofit offers monthly webinars that you can watch whenever and however (see: loungewear and no-bra) on YouTube. Hosted by mental health professionals, these videos range in topics from explainers on, say, psychological trauma to timely discussions, such as "How to Overcome COVID Re-entry Anxiety."
Hims and Hers
While they might be best known for their wellness products, Hims and Hers also offer a range of free mental health services. The brands offer virtual group sessions throughout each month that range in topic, from journal writing for stress relief to building a mindfulness practice. Once you sign up for the session of interest (via their websites), you can submit anonymous questions to be addressed by the therapist during your group chat.
Therapy for Black Girls
Founded by licensed psychologist Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D., Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to destigmatizing mental health care and helping Black women find their ideal practitioner. Through the organization's eponymous podcast and social media platforms, Harden Bradford (aka Dr. Joy) provides support, actionable tips, and expert-backed resources to help Black women better their mental wellness. She's also built a free, easily accessible directory packed with culturally-competent practitioners with varying costs. (Related: Black Women Are Finally Shedding the Shame of Therapy)
While the Talkspace app is free to download, chatting with a therapist can cost a pretty penny. That said, the popular online therapy app has found other ways to provide free mental health services. Case in point? Talkspace's virtual offerings include a mental health test that helps you determine if you should seek help and what type specifically, a comprehensive Mental Health Conditions Library, and an ever-growing blog that's rich with expert-backed content.
Crisis Text Line
This free, 24/7 text hotline has been helping people across the country (as well as those in Canada and England) "move from a hot moment to a cool calm," according to the company's website. How, exactly? It all starts with, well, a text: Within minutes of sending a simple "hello" to 741741 (if you're in the U.S.), you'll be connected to a live, trained crisis counselor who will help you work through your feelings by asking questions, and reflecting on the information you share with the goal of getting you to a safe, calm place. Texting convos can last anywhere from 15-to 45-minutes and end only when you and the counselor both feel comfortable with your (hopefully!) cooler state. (Related: How Working at a Suicide Prevention Hotline Changed My Perspective On Mental Health)
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLH) — which, BTW, Taraji P. Henson founded in honor of her father — offers free mental health services to African American individuals and families as part of the brand's Mental Wellness Support program. The goal is to provide minority communities the much-needed and deserved opportunity to work through any "life-changing events and everyday struggles, including but not limited to stress and anxiety regarding race relations and injustice towards people of color," according to BLH's website. Enrollment is available on a first-come, first-serve basis while funds last, and if you do snag a spot, get ready for five free mental health therapy sessions by licensed, culturally-competent clinicians.
When dealing with mental health challenges and illnesses, it's oftentimes hard to remember that you are not alone (at least it's been for me). Add into the mix social isolation (thanks @ coronavirus pandemic) and you're likely feeling even more sequestered and solo. Enter: Inclusive Therapists, a mental health community with a feed full of those much-needed reminders that you are, in fact, not alone. Their grid is composed of valuable mental health-related wisdom, encouraging quotes, and profiles on mental health practitioners — many of whom offer reduced-fee teletherapy and are included in their online directory. (Related: How to Find the Best Therapist for You)