In an ideal world, everyone who needed it or wanted it would be able to afford and have access to a great therapist.
But, as wonderful as therapy is – for anyone, not only people who suffer from mental health issues –, it's not always possible for everyone.
For one thing, it can be expensive, even if your insurance covers it (and not all insurance plans do). And, even if you can afford it, it can still be hard to find a therapist you're comfortable sharing all your thoughts and feelings with.
If, for whatever reason, you can't go to therapy, you still deserve ways to manage when you're struggling with your mental health. While there's absolutely no substitute for a therapist, we all have to get through somehow. Ahead, nine people discuss how they cope when therapy just isn't an option.
See What Your Insurance Can Do
Dealing with insurance is a pain, but it's the best place to start even if you wind up pursuing other options. Nowadays, insurance coverage is a lot better than it used to be for therapy and counselling.
Your insurance provider will be able to tell you how to pursue treatment, whether that's finding an in-network therapist that you can see with a normal co-pay or paying out of pocket and getting reimbursed.
If you're worried that a lack of diagnosis will get in the way of your coverage — for example, if you're dealing with a lot of situational anxiety that you want to work through but don't meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder — talk to a therapist you're interested in seeing. They might be able to help you work with your insurance company to get coverage.
try Art Therapy
If you can't quite put into words how you're feeling, art therapy could be a helpful route in lieu of traditional talk therapy. The Irish Association of Creative Art Therapists (IACAT) defines art therapy as "an allied mental health profession which uses art media and creative interventions to encourage self-expression and reflection within a therapeutic relationship. The aim is to improve mental health and maintain emotional well-being." Multiple studies have shown art therapy not only eases the symptoms of mental health issues, but also anxiety and depression related to chronic physical illness.
Look into low-cost or no-cost options
If money’s tight but you really want to have some face time with a licensed therapist, you can. Yes, therapy is expensive but there is always the low-cost/no-cost options route.
Some therapists will do a sliding scale—where you pay what you can afford—while others offer free services such as individual counselling to a limited amount of patients.
Alternatively, look into nearby colleges or teaching hospitals as people training to be psychologists, social workers, and family therapists have to get on-the-job experience meaning that most of the time, their services will be heavily discounted or even free. And if you're worried about seeing a trainee, don't worry: not only are they getting state-of-the-art training, they will also be supervised by someone who's licensed.
Try a mental health app
Obviously, mental health apps aren't a replacement for professional mental healthcare, but they can help provide you with skills and small ways to ease your symptoms. PsyberGuide is a great place to find software and apps for managing mental health conditions. You can search by your condition or by type of treatment and see expert reviews and ratings.
talk to a loved one
Chances are there is someone already in your life who could be tremendously helpful. Different people can offer different kinds of support, so try to think of what your needs are and who in your family or friendship circle might best to talk to. Think of someone who you are comfortable with and trust, some who is likely to understand and will take your situation seriously. Remember: where and when you start a conversation is not as important as starting it in the first place.
FIND a support group
If you don’t mind talking to a group of strangers, then a low-cost/no-cost support group might be worth looking into. Oftentimes, group therapy and support groups bring people together with a shared concern, such as anxiety, eating disorders, or OCD. Typically, they are run by a mental health professional. But in some cases, a group member could be the one leading the pack. It’s smart to call ahead and ask who is moderating the group. Aware Support & Self Care Groups offer an opportunity for people, aged 18 years and over, to talk openly about depression, bipolar disorder, other mood conditions and their impact.
Try Music Therapy
There's no denying that even people who live without mental health issues use music as a form of medicine. The benefits to working with a trained music therapist are substantial: Studies have shown music therapy and the vibration of sounds help relieve anxiety and depression, reduce physical pain, and have even help hospice patients better accept their illness.
In addition to regular music therapy, some people are turning to gong therapy (aka gong or sound baths) for the same exact reason. Much like music therapy, gong baths help some people relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and encourage wellness.
If you're a student, take advantage of your free resources
No matter the institution, the vast majority of college and universities will have someone you can talk to, be it a guidance counsellor or therapist. Being a student, you are entitled to avail of the college's own counselling service at all times. However, given the sizes of most universities, student counselling centres may only have a set number of sessions for each student. If this is the case and you've used all of yours, a lot of places will let you show your student body card for a discount. A lot of therapists are pretty sympathetic to that, having been through a whole lot of school ourselves and knowing what it’s like to be a poor student.
Call A Helpline
Even if you're not an immediate risk, sometimes you just need to someone urgently. Crisis prevention resources will connect you with trained counsellors for free. Just remember that no crisis is too small.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, there is help available:
- Samaritans – 116 123 – [email protected] or [email protected]
- Pieta House – 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444
- Aware - 1800 80 48 48
- Childline – 1800 66 66 66 or free text 50101
Main image by @suzannekoller