Finding Support: Free Mental Health Services & Affordable Mental Health Treatment

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated May 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Many individuals experience moments where they desire extra support, understanding and guidance in their health journey—and sometimes that involves seeking the assistance of a free psychologist

Whether looking to navigate a challenging transition or gain more clarity on goals and dreams, counseling can be a valuable way to receive guidance. However, many individuals face financial barriers to treatment and may feel they cannot reach out due to the cost of therapy. 

In these cases, seeking an affordable treatment option or no-cost services can be beneficial. Read on to learn more about support options you have if you are experiencing routine needs, a crisis, or need to find further urgent support (such as you would in the case of suicide-related thoughts). 

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Understanding the brain

Mental health generally refers to an individual's psychological, emotional, and social well-being—and many people work on achieving wellness throughout their lives. Common mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can affect how someone perceives themselves and the world around them. 

Learn about the signs and symptoms of these conditions can help you to better identify them in yourself or your loved ones.

Symptoms of psychological health conditions (once referred to as mental illness or mental disorders) may include:
  • Changes in mood
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering information 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Frequent episodes of fear or worry 
Recognizing that mental health conditions can be treatable can show the potential importance of early intervention and treatment. The availability of quality mental healthcare can make significant differences in helping individuals cope, manage, and recover from these conditions and other symptoms or concerns—such as substance use disorder (once known as substance abuse). 
Having counseling help may be very beneficial for you and can help you maintain a good mental state. If you are putting off treatment due to cost, know that affordable, free or low-cost counseling services are available. 

Types of affordable or free therapeutic services

If you don't have insurance or the financial resources to cover counseling sessions or behavioral health support, there may be other options available. Your mental health care and well-being are a priority, even if you have limited resources. Below are a few of the most common types of affordable counseling services—covering a range of needs, including stress disorder, as well as the effects of abuse and mental health conditions. 

Community clinics and non-profit organizations 

Many cities offer low-cost counseling sessions through local clinics or non-profit organizations—and can support niche conditions or concerns (such as those associated with substance use, once known as substance abuse, and mental health overall). 

Not sure where to start? You might be able to find low-cost evaluations or counseling and recovery services through your local university or college's student psychology clinic. Even if you are not a student, psychology students may offer care at lower rates to gain clinical experience. 

Sliding scale fees 

Some counselors and therapists may offer a sliding scale fee structure that allows you to pay according to your financial capabilities. A sliding scale fee can benefit those who struggle to afford full-price therapy sessions but can pay lower amounts. 

Insurance coverage 

Many health insurance providers offer coverage for mental health counseling in specific cases, such as if you’re experiencing the effects of stress, abuse, and mental health conditions overall. You can check with your provider to understand what is covered and any additional fees or co-pays you may be responsible for.
In addition, Medicaid and Medicare provide coverage for mental health services, including counseling, in most states. Check with your state's Medicaid program to understand what is covered in your area.

Telehealth treatment 

Online counseling and telemental health counseling options have become increasingly popular in recent years. These free online counseling services allow mental healthcare from the comfort and convenience of your home. Free online therapy services can be ideal for those who can't afford or attend in-person therapy.

Faith-based organizations 

Many religious organizations or centers offer counseling, including low-cost counseling services for their congregation. If you are looking for faith-based support, this option may benefit you. However, it can be important to ensure anyone offering to counsel has a license to do so. If they do not, their services fall under life coaching. Though coaching can promote mental health, the advice does not replace a licensed therapist. 

Government-funded resources 

Local, state, and federal government agencies may provide funding for mental health services and vet centers. Veterans may also be eligible for low-cost treatment or free mental health services through the US Veterans Affairs Administration. You can research options for a vet center in your area for further information. You can also call 211 for local resources. 

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Common barriers to receiving these services

Availability of mental health services can be a concern in rural areas or communities with limited resources. When people don't live close to a counseling center or mental health provider, getting the help they need to treat mental health challenges can be difficult.

Mental health studies indicate that rural areas are underserved and often lack specialized mental health care. As a result, rural residents may be less likely to seek treatment or find the peer support they need. Additionally, patients in rural communities may struggle with transportation issues or not have the resources for treatment, such as money or the Internet.

Ethnic and racial minorities also face gaps in mental healthcare. Research shows that minority populations can be less likely to receive appropriate mental health care and often face unique socioeconomic challenges. Language barriers and lack of cultural understanding may impede getting quality mental health services.
In addition, within certain groups, the stigma surrounding mental illness can be immense to the point where it prevents those who need help from seeking treatment. Creating a greater understanding and awareness of mental health concerns can help everyone feel empowered when seeking support, and studies show that destigmatization is essential

Reducing the common stigma 

The following strategies may help reduce the effects of mental health stigma:
  • Educating: Educating yourself and others on mental illness 
  • Leading By Example: Showing support for those facing challenges or listening to them without judgment
  • Encouraging Open Dialogue: Talking about mental health issues openly to reduce the shame surrounding them
  • Supporting Research: Supporting organizations reducing stigma in your local community 
When confronting mental health stigma, everyone in a community can play a part in creating a healthier and more accepting culture. By working together and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, communities may create a more welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable seeking support. 

Beyond counseling: other ways to care for your overall wellbeing 

Mental health can play an essential role in overall well-being. Taking the time to prioritize and invest in your mental health can be an empowering decision. Below are a few other ways you can care for yourself: 


Self-care and self-awareness can be starting points when addressing your mental health. You can take steps toward improved mental wellness by finding activities that bring you joy, setting boundaries for yourself and your relationships, and by seeking trusted sources of support. For example, journaling is one research-proven method for improving mental health at home. 


Self-compassion might also help you feel more aware of your thoughts and behaviors, recognizing when you might benefit from seeking additional support or taking a break. Self-care, for example, can mean taking a step back and allowing yourself to listen to your body and mind.

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Affordable online therapy 

Online therapy sessions may be an affordable option if you are seeking support with managing your mental health. Online mental health services can offer the same quality of care you might receive in person but with added convenience and reachability. Licensed mental health professionals or counselors can help you identify symptoms, create a personalized plan for wellness and provide support. You can choose between phone, video, and live chat sessions to get the help of an online therapist for whatever challenges you may be facing. 

In addition, clinical research shows recent advances in technologies and techniques have opened new pathways to quality mental healthcare and can be as effective as in-person live sessions. Cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely researched forms of psychotherapy. 

CBT can effectively manage mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, and stress-related disorders.

CBT can help you gain insight into your thoughts and feelings that might be influencing your behavior or emotions. By exploring these patterns, you can take steps toward making positive changes. If you're interested in signing up for affordable therapy from $65 to $90 a session, consider a platform like BetterHelp, which offers over 30,000 licensed and vetted providers offering unique, compassionate services to communities worldwide. 


Although there can be barriers to treatment for some individuals, several low-cost therapy options are available throughout the US, including online therapy, local clinics, and government insurance plans. If unsure where to start, consider reaching out to a provider for an initial consultation and further advice.

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