[Hello everyone, Captain Awkward here. I saw the list of resources for people that can’t access therapy right now that Tiffany compiled on Twitter and hired her to write it up for us as a companion to the post on how to access low-cost counseling in the US and Canada. If you have additional resources that have helped you please feel free to share them in comments. -CA]
2017 has been quite a year to say the least. But in the midst of all the global upheaval, I’ve also noticed a trend of more people willing to talk about mental illness, and also seek out solutions for mental health care. I’ve seen a lot of conversations surrounding this topic on social media. As someone who has dealt with clinical depression for most of her life, it makes me glad to see the stigma of mental illness falling away as more people open up about their struggles and needs. However, it seems the supply for low-cost, accessible mental health services is yet to catch up with the demand, particularly in the United States. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of resources (mostly available online) for those who have trouble accessing therapy at the moment. While there’s no substitute for actually talking one-on-one with a professional about your problems, hopefully these resources will get you on the right track to mental health.
1. Recovery International: This organization was founded in the 1930s by a psychiatrist who was ahead of his time, Dr. Abraham Low. Recovery International is a program based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that teaches participants a way of overcoming limits imposed by depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. The result is the ability to lead a more functional, peaceful life. Recovery International holds in-person meetings all over the United States (and some in Europe). They also hold online chat and video meetings. Each meeting is lead by a volunteer well versed in the Recovery International method.
Cost: Each meeting is donation based, so you can give what you can. You also might want to purchase one of Dr. Low’s books at some point, which are reasonably priced.
2. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Also known as ACT, this psychotherapy technique focuses on accepting and re-framing the things in your life that cause you suffering instead of trying to avoid them. ACT teaches you to embrace pain as a normal part of the human condition, therefore freeing yourself from the trap of always trying to avoid it. A great book to pick up on ACT is “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” by Steven Hayes and Spencer Xavier Smith. It’s an award-winning book that comes very highly recommended.
Cost: See current price on Amazon.
3. Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance: The DBS Alliance was founded as a safe place for those with depression and bipolar disorders to share their experiences and receive support. DBSA offers online support group meetings where you’ll find peers that “assist, encourage, and enable each other in helping themselves.” There are also support meetings for friends and family of people with mood disorders, and one specifically for young adults.
Cost: Donation based, so give what you can if you find the meetings helpful.
4. 7 Cups of Tea: An on-demand emotional health and well-being service available online and via downloadable app. Their main offering is anonymously connecting people one-on-one with trained “listeners” to talk about whatever is on their mind. They also have moderated chatrooms and message boards. You can also follow a 7 Cups path, which consists of small, actionable steps you can take each day to improve your mental well-being.
Cost: Free to join, free to chat with listeners and participate in discussions. They also have paid services available, such as chatting with a licensed therapist and customizing your 7 Cups path.
5. Pacifica: This app gives users daily tools for managing stress, anxiety and depression. They offer self-help paths designed by psychologists that give you actionable steps to take each day. You can also track your mood throughout the day, track activities like sleep and exercise, set daily challenges, and use the guided relaxation techniques. Pacifica also offer a peer-to-peer support community where you can connect with like-minded users.
Cost: Free to download and use most services. Upgraded services start at $5.99 USD per month.
6. Sip and Om Podcast: Plenty has been said about the benefits of meditation for people who suffer from mental and mood disorders. It can help to tame a racing mind, lower stress levels, and help you sleep better at night, among other things. If you want to dive into meditation, the Sip and Om podcast hosted by Mary Meckley is a great introduction. Each week she has a different meditation theme, such as stress, depression, and self esteem. She also features different herbal teas that you can drink for health.
Cost: 2 week free trial, cheapest plan is $14.99/month after that.
7. Headspace: If you prefer an app over a podcast to meditate, then Headspace is a great way to dive in. The ten-part introduction series is perfect for beginners or those returning to meditation. If you like it, they have an extensive library of guided meditations for you to subscribe to.
Cost: Free to download, free introduction series. Access to full meditation library starts at $12.99 USD per month.
8. Samaritans: A secular non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom that offers users a way to correspond with trained counselors about whatever troubles them. You can email or call Samaritans around the clock, no matter where you are in the world. They’re committed to offering a listening ear and never being pushy or judgmental. Every conversation is confidential.
9. Sleep With Me Podcast: Getting to sleep at night is a big issue when your mind is always racing. That’s why I love the Sleep With Me Podcast. Each episode features the host Scooter telling a boring bedtime story meant to take your mind off of whatever might be troubling you. The team at this podcast is really dedicated to helping listeners get a good night’s rest. If you like it, there’s an archive full of over 500 episodes to choose from.
10. Therapy For Black Girls Podcast: There’s a strong stigma around mental health in the black American community, and black women and girls in particular really suffer because of it. Hosted by the very likeable Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Therapy for Black Girls is just like hanging out with a good friend and discussing mental health in a down-to-earth way. Whether dealing with mama issues or getting through a breakup, Dr. Joy’s comforting counsel is really a breath of fresh air.
11. Mood Gym: This online interactive self-help program provides cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) training to help its users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. They have over 1 million users all over the world, and it’s completely anonymous and confidential. Each lesson is easy to digest. The exercises and quizzes give you practical ways to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings so that you can improve on your mental health day by day.
Cost: $39 AUD for 12 months (about $30 USD)
12. RAINN Sexual Abuse Hotline: RAINN is America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. If you’ve suffered from sexual abuse, whether recently or not, you can contact them around the clock by phone or chat. Volunteers are trained to listen in a nonjudgmental way and also to help you find more resources if needed. RAINN also leads sexual assault prevention programs and works to improve public policy on sexual violence. You can find more information on their website.
13. Scarleteen: Sex and relationships can be difficult territory for young people to navigate. That’s why Scarleteen offers online chat and SMS services for teens and young adults who need guidance on any and everything related to sex and relationships. They also have messageboards and an advice column where you can submit your questions. While they can’t help directly with issues related to anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, they can offer guidance on this very important part of everyone’s life.
14. Kooth: This is an online service designed for UK youth under the age of 18. On Kooth you can chat with an online counselor, read articles written by young people, interact with an online community, and even keep an online journal. Kooth has been recommended by school counselors and others who work on young people’s behalf.
Remember that not all of these options may work for you, but if you find one or two that do work, then you’ll be much better off. Just check them out one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. I wish you all the best in your journey towards greater mental well-being and a more fulfilling life.
Tiffany is a freelance writer and online marketing consultant from Southern California. She has a passion for using her writing to help both people and great businesses grow. If you’re in need of an experienced freelance writer, you can see her ghostblogging portfolio here.