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Free or Low Cost Mental Health Care

Community Mental Health Service Programs:
People who have a mental illness can find help through local Community Mental Health Services Programs. Find a program near you by searching this list. Or, check this map for information on the Community Mental Health Service Program in your county.

Find more information on Community Mental Health Service Programs here.

Community Health Centers:
Many community health centers offer mental health care services. Community health centers care for you even if you have no health insurance. You pay what you can afford based on your income. Find a community health center near you.

Find more information on community health centers here.

Free Clinics:
Some free clinics offer free mental health care. Free clinics use volunteer health care providers to give free or low cost care to people without insurance.

Find more information on free clinics here.

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – It can be hard to seek help for your mental health and even more challenging when you don’t have money for treatment. About 56 percent of Americans say they don’t seek help because they can’t afford it.

But there are ways to get help if money is an issue. NBC News shares eight options to look into if you need somewhere to turn, but don’t think you have the money:

1. Seek “in-network” first.

Your health insurance plan may include mental health coverage, either through the plan itself or through an outsourced vendor. If insurance is not an option, check a local social services agency or a community-based health care center that is funded by the government. If you’re a student, visit your student health center.

You can also reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Health by texting NAMI to 741741.

Experts tell NBC News you should avoid visiting the emergency room for mental health issues, except in the case of an urgent crisis, to avoid a large bill. Also, emergency rooms are not set up to work with a patient’s mental health concerns over a longer period of time.

2. Private therapists will often work as low as $10/hour

Private therapists may be willing to cut their rates by as much as 50 percent to meet the financial capabilities of a patient. Furthermore, some may bring on interns to can visit with patients for as low as $10.

3. See if you’re eligible for Medicaid for free therapy

If you don’t have insurance, your income may allow you to qualify for Medicaid and select a therapist from within that network. Dr. Jesse Matthews told NBC News a person with Medicaid “should be able to access mental health care free of charge.”

4. Local training institutes may provide free sessions for up to two years.

You may have to commit to regular visits over a couple years, but the Psychoanalytic Training Institute could offer free therapy.

“The patient is assured to receive treatment from the same singular qualified M.D. who is getting supervision and advanced specific training in intensive long-term treatment,” Dr. Fran Walfish told NBC News.

The nearest one to Indianapolis is in Chicago.

5. University hospitals are often eager to put students to work for a low fee

Walfish said teaching hospitals use interns and residents in their psychiatry and outpatient psychology programs to provide low-fee services on a sliding scale. Some private and state-funded non-profits will also provide low-cost services based your previous year’s tax return.

6. Check out the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a non-profit organization that matches middle- and low-income people and families with affordable mental health services and education.

7. Help may be as close as your smartphone

There are a growing number of health systems that are offering tele-services to connect people in need with licensed professionals. Check with your local hospital for information.

8. If you’re really hurting, check into a clinic or call for help

If you are in desperate need of immediate mental health services, visit a community mental health clinic, NBC suggests. They will often be able to find low-cost services to help you out.

If you feel in danger of harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline free of charge 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.

Low-Cost Treatment

Anxiety disorders are treatable, yet only one-third of those diagnosed receive treatment. Often the cost of cognitive-behavioral therapy and prescription drugs deters people from getting the help they need.
The following is a list of resources that offer assistance in paying for treatment. Family physicians also may have information about low-cost treatment resources.


While effective for treating anxiety disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy, usually known as CBT, can be expensive, sometimes costing $100 or more per hour. Some therapists or clinics offer therapy on a sliding scale, which means that charges fluctuate based on income. Ask about a sliding scale or other payment options when you call or visit for a consultation. Find a Therapist near you.
Federally funded health centers can also be a good resource for those without health insurance or with a limited budget. You pay what you can afford, based on your income. Many of these centers include mental health services. Find a federally funded health center near you.
Some colleges and universities offer low-cost therapy for anxiety disorders and other mental health problems. Call the psychology, psychiatry, or behavioral health department and inquire about sessions with graduate students, who are supervised and can provide services at a lower cost as they gain counseling experience. Keep in mind that these sessions aren’t always open to the public; some departments may limit them to students of that college or university.

  • What to do when you can’t afford therapy (practical advice for obtaining quality mental health care when money is tight).
  • Download our “Important Questions for Your Therapist and Insurance Carrier” infographic.
  • Read ADAA member Dominique Apollon’s 7 Ways to Seek Therapy Without Breaking the Bank blog post.

Prescription Drugs

Medication can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, but for people without health insurance, prescription drugs can be too expensive. If you are considering medication, however, it must be prescribed and monitored by your physician. Do not adjust the dosage or frequency or stop taking it abruptly, even if cost is a factor, without first discussing it with your doctor.
Most pharmaceutical companies offer patient-assistance programs for uninsured patients. These programs provide prescribed medication at little to no cost. Eligibility varies; see the Partnership for Prescription Assistance website for more information, or contact companies directly about their patient assistance programs.

Here are some pharmaceutical companies that offer patient assistance programs:


  • Prescription Savings Programs for people without insurance, Medicare Part D beneficiaries, and health care facilities




  • Patient & Prescription Assistance Programs Information
  • Pfizer RxPathways Assistance


Generic drugs are a cheaper alternative to brand-name medications. Make sure your doctor writes your prescription in a way that allows for the generic version of the medication. Some medications don’t yet have a generic version on the market. This is because when new drugs are developed, they’re put under patent protection. Until that patent expires, the pharmaceutical company is the only one who can sell that drug. Ask if your doctor has any samples to give you. Pharmaceutical companies often give samples of their new drugs to doctors and clinics.
Buying medication online can be another cost-effective way to treat your anxiety disorder, but be cautious of the hundreds of scams and illegal “pharmacies” online. If you do order medication online, only use a licensed pharmacy with a licensed pharmacist on call to answer your questions. It’s illegal for a website to sell any medication without requiring a prescription. Also, be sure to read the privacy information on the pharmacy’s website. For more information, read the FDA’s consumer safety guide on buying prescription drugs online.

NeedyMeds is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit information resource dedicated to helping people locate assistance programs to help them afford their medications and other healthcare costs. ADAA is partnering with NeedyMeds to provide information resource pages about various anxiety and depression related disorders. NeedyMeds has provided this 2019 informational sheet with the most popular healthcare cost savings program.

Medicaid and Clinical Trial Information

If you are a U.S. citizen with low income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid coverage includes mental health treatment costs; eligibility and services provided vary by state. If you are 65 years or older, you may be eligible for Medicare, which includes hospital and medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. Get more information about both of these government programs.
Before medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or before certain therapy methods are widely accepted as effective, they are tested on volunteers in a clinical trial. You can participate in a clinical trial, also called a research study, but be aware that there are risks. Not all experimental treatments will be effective, and you may experience unpleasant or serious side effects. Eligibility, time commitment, and reimbursement vary. Search for a clinical trial on the ADAA website, or search the National Institutes of Health database.
ADAA Resources:

  • 7 Ways to Seek Therapy Without Breaking the Bank

Other Resources:

Learn more about how you choose and find a therapist nearby in your area.

Free Mental Health Services and How to Find Them

Mental health services, including mental health clinics, are needed by anyone with a mental health condition. These services include mental health medication prescription and management, substance abuse treatment, specific therapies and more. Mental health services are typically paid for by insurance or out-of-pocket but low-cost or free mental health services are also available in most communities. (I Need Mental Help: Where to Find Mental Health Help)

  • If you’re in immediate distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) or chat with them online. The Lifeline, which is free and confidential, can not only provide immediate support for those going through a rough time but they can also make referrals to mental health services near you. (Find out the reasons why people call a suicide crisis hotline.)

Mental Health Services in Your Community

The most comprehensive directory of mental health and addiction services available in the United States is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This treatment services locator can find all the mental health services and substance abuse services in a given area.

  • Enter your address, city or zip code here to begin your search for mental health services: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Once you have entered your address information, the services locator will list services by type: either mental health or substance abuse (narrow down your search by selecting only one type in the box in the upper-right corner of your screen). The website, directions to the facility and contact information is listed. If you click on the More Information link for any service, payment information is available along with other information about the service.

Finding Low-Cost or Free Counseling or Free Mental Health Services

Services at some mental health clinics and other services are on a sliding scale based on income and other factors. Listed in the above treatment locator is whether the facility accepts insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other forms of payment. It’s best to contact any facility to see specifically if they offer the free mental health service that you need.

  • You can also call SAMHSA’s National Helpline for this information at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD)

Additional Ways of Finding Mental Health Clinics and Mental Health Services

Additionally, local charity organizations often provide mental health services, sometime for free, or know of places where you can get them. Examples of these organizations include:

  • A local National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate

Universities or teaching hospitals in your area may also offer mental health services, including some free services. Contact those in your area to find out.

Mental Health America provides a directory of specialized organizations that can provide information about specialized services in your area and can be found here.

Mental Health Services for Veterans

Through the Veteran’s Administration, most veterans can get free mental health services including free mental health counseling. Services are particularly focused around substance abuse, suicide prevention and posttraumatic stress disorder treatment, but other conditions are treated as well. Access to these free mental health services can be found through Vet Centers.

  • Call 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) to discuss your service and find a Vet Center near you.

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

If you qualify for the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, you will be able to receive a Medicare rebate on on selected mental health services.

Your GP can also refer you to psychological services through the local Primary Health Networks. These have funding to provide services to populations in their area deemed to be at high risk or have poor access to mental health support. Ask your GP if you can access these services.

Who can use the Better Access program?

You can use Better Access if your doctor says you are eligible. As a first step, you must have been diagnosed with a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis or anxiety.

You will also usually need a mental health care plan from your doctor.

If you have a mental illness, your doctor might refer you to Better Access as a way of improving your treatment at a lower cost to you. The practitioner you are referred to may accept the rebate as the payment, or you may have to pay more than the rebate and then claim the rebate back from Medicare.

People using the Better Access program can have 6 individual and 6 group treatment sessions provided by a GP, psychiatrist, psychologist and eligible social workers and occupational therapists. Your doctor can then refer you for another 4 treatment sessions if they think it will help.

Under Better Access, you can claim for up to 10 individual and 10 group services each calendar year. Services can be face to face or telehealth consultations.

If you and your doctor thinks it will help, you can get treatment under Better Access again next year.

How do I start?

The first step is to see your doctor. If you can’t see your doctor, any health service should be able to help.

Search for mental health services in your location.

Other mental health services

If you have concerns about your mental illness, you can also contact one of the free counselling services such as:

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • Kids Helpline (24/7 phone and online chat for young people aged 5-25 years) — call 1800 55 1800
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467

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