When you’re feeling down and going through a rough patch, it’s hard enough admitting that getting help is a good idea. It’s doubly hard to find that help when you have to navigate through a network of providers while using a resource index that predates the invention of the iPhone. Add in the not-so-fun fact that it can cost a pretty penny to see a therapist, counselor or other medical professional, and you can understand why taking care of mental health can seem out of reach and out of budget. But free mental health resources are available.
Obviously, it shouldn’t be that expensive. And it’s not always. Many therapists offer sliding pay scales for clients while students in psychology and other social service fields often also offer discounted services. There are also volunteers working a slew of different crisis support hotlines who are willing to lend an ear when you need one.
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t make you go broke. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite, online, free mental health resources designed to help you do a quick check on your mental health and connect you with professionals and volunteers who want to help.
You Feel Like Shit: A self-care game
Straightforward name aside, this online “game” is designed to help you make time for some self-care during your day. It asks you questions like whether or not you have taken your medication or slept enough, and then nudges you to take the necessary steps to pause and recharge. Users work their way through the interactive flow chart at their own pace or make it part of their daily routine.
IMALIVE is a service provided by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness and education. Individuals who are facing a crisis can chat with volunteers via instant messenger to get the help and support they need. While there are other volunteer-run support programs nationwide, IMALIVE stands out because all of its volunteers are trained and certified in crisis intervention.
Sometimes your situation isn’t necessarily at crisis-intervention levels. All you need is someone to talk to who will hear you out and listen to what’s on your mind. That’s what volunteer listeners do on the free 7 Cups app. The app connects users anonymously with volunteers or, for a price, to licensed therapists, who will hear you talk about your problems, big or small. It’s a great, free mental health resource for when you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re needing a mental health release.
If you or anyone you know lives with a chronic illness, you likely understand how the experience can be a lonely and isolating one. The app Reachout was designed specifically to help connect individuals facing any variety of chronic conditions from cancer, to diabetes, to heart disease and more. According to the site, the app helps users “connect with others experiencing similar disease related challenges,” so that they find and form “compassion, empathy, strength and non-judgmental friendships.”
A crowdsourced list of affordable therapy in your state
After the writer Crissy Milazzo had three of her friends die by suicide, she began thinking of ways to help others gain better access to therapy. While working through her own grief, Milazzo struggled to find affordable therapy options and she wondered about how difficult it might be for others, she told The Mighty. That’s when she came up with the idea to create a public spreadsheet detailing affordable therapy options and free mental health resources in every state. You can access the crowdsourced document here or email in your own suggestion to help others.
Lastly, remember that there are plenty of ways you can practice self-care on the daily that don’t cost a thing (we’ve outlined 31 of them here). And, on those days when you just want to do a quick check-in with yourself, we have a self-care checklist to get you started.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or need to talk to someone, text the Crisis Text Lineat 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this Crisis Text Lineat 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, thisat 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, thisat 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, thislistis a good place to start.