For more than 10 years, October has been recognized as Emotional Wellness Month across the United States, but here in 2020, it feels more crucial now than ever to prioritize our own mental and emotional health. The lack of social connections, the financial strain of income loss, the racial injustice in our communities, and the threat of this global pandemic are stressful—traumatic, even—for all of us.
Mental Illness Is on the Rise, but Barriers to Help Remain.
A recent poll from the CDC found that 40 percent of Americans over 18 currently deal with depression, anxiety, loneliness, substance abuse, trauma responses or suicidal thoughts due to the events of this year. As the data also points out, among those most vulnerable to mental health concerns are essential workers, racial or ethnic minorities, young adults and unpaid caregivers. People in low socioeconomic areas or with pre-existing medical issues are affected disproportionately too.
In these uncertain times, we all should invest more energy, attention and care toward our mental health. But this in itself can be overwhelming if we don’t know where to start—or worse, if we are denied access. While crucial strides have been taken to destigmatize mental illness over the last decade, there are still barriers in place to exclude many of us from the therapeutic resources and interventions we need.
Without health insurance—which 5.4 million Americans lost in this economic crisis—an hour-long therapy session could run upwards of $150. That’s simply not affordable right now for a major segment of our population. Combine these high costs of treatment with the shame, isolation and perceived weakness that all too often silence us from reaching out, and it’s no wonder mental illness is overlooked and undiagnosed across the nation. So is there hope, and where can we turn for emotional wellness?
Yes…Resources Are Available, and Here’s Where to Look.
Mental health should not be a privilege for those who can afford a counselor’s hourly rates. It should be a basic human right to care for all the facets of well-being—mind, body and spirit. We should not have to choose between paying our bills on time or balancing our emotions and processing our traumas. That alone is a form of injustice—but fortunately, organizations do exist to make healing more accessible and equitable.
Hotline Numbers and Virtual Support Groups
These numbers are free, confidential and can be reached from anywhere. Some even offer 24–7 access for immediate help or in crisis situations, and there are English, Spanish and hearing impaired services too.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-825
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-4757
- DrugRehab.com (funded by Advanced Recovery Systems): 855-520-2898
- National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 800-931-2237 (or text NEDA to 741741)
- Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4637
- National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-786-2929 (or text 66008)
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (or text 838255)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-787-3224
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 800-950-6264 (or text NAMI to 741741)
If you want to connect with peers who deal with the same challenges you do in a secure, trusted and compassionate online setting, another resource to check out is Support Groups Central. This website provides free group meetings led by a trained facilitator on topics from depression and anxiety, to eating disorders and addiction recovery, to post-traumatic stress and BIPOC experiences, to chronic illness and COVID-19 difficulties.
Accredited Telehealth Counseling Platforms
If you need private one-on-one counseling, but you’re unable to make it to a therapist’s office, or you don’t feel safe leaving home in this pandemic, telehealth is a convenient—and often more affordable—option. These platforms are HIPPA-compliant and have a network of licensed, vetted counselors who are trained in numerous disciplines. You can choose from individual or couple formats too.
Both of the services listed below are subscription-based with no contract obligations. Once you are matched with a therapist, you can communicate with them anytime on a computer or mobile device through phone calls, video conferences and text messages. You can also request a different counselor if necessary.
- Talkspace: $260–$390 per month (use code FALL80 for $80 off): If you need psychiatric care or medication, Talkspace also can also match you with a licensed psychiatrist in your state for an evaluation or prescription management (use code TSCARE for 50% off).
- BetterHelp: $60–$80 per week: BetterHelp is not an ideal option if you are in an emergency situation, if you are under psychological supervision, if you could be a threat to yourself or someone else, or if you have a serious mental illness.
Scholarship Funds and Sliding-Scale Clinicians
If monetary stress is the one major roadblock that prevents you from seeking treatment, some nonprofits offer grant funds to applicants with a demonstrated financial need. Here are two mental health scholarships worth looking into.
- To Write Love on Her Arms: This funding is available to anyone who needs access to counseling, addiction recovery, and outpatient or residential treatment.
- The Loveland Foundation: This funding is specifically available to Black women and girls who need access to counseling from a therapist who can identify with their own cultural and racial background.
In addition, some counselors will adjust their rates on a sliding-scale basis to keep the cost of a session within your income bracket. To find a therapist in your area who provides a sliding-scale, visit Open Path Psychotherapy Collective. This extensive network of mental health professionals around the country offers both in-person and online services at $30– $60 for individual sessions and $30–$80 for couple or family sessions.
What are some mental health resources that have been part of your self-care in 2020? What strides are you taking to prioritize emotional wellness this month? How is your mental and emotional state currently? We would love to hear your thoughts and input, so please share in the comment section below!