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Mental health help is so essential. If you feel that you, or a loved one, need help for mental health, it’s important to take action right away. Reach out to people who can help you by making a referral or by providing a diagnosis and treatment. Realizing that something just isn’t right represents the first step in treating a mental disorder. Actually getting help for mental health disorders is the second, and most important, step.

Importance of Mental Health Assistance

Early identification and competent mental health assistance provides the greatest chance for recovery. The earlier you seek help, the less likely you are to experience a relapse later on. When it comes to mental health help, never be afraid to ask for helpOnce you’ve established a relationship with a qualified healthcare provider, he or she can take steps to make a correct diagnosis and offer treatment to get you back on track.

But, in order to get treated, you’ve got to know where to go for mental health help. If you’re not sure where to go, share your concerns with a trusted friend or advisor with experience in the mental health field: pastor, physician, counselor or family member.

Know Where to Get Mental Health Help

There’s a wide variety of resources available for getting mental health help. Many communities have mental health support services and mental health support groups that can help you.

The list below includes the types of people and places you can contact when seeking mental health help:

  • Primary care physicians (i.e. family doctor)
  • Mental health professionals (i.e. psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, certified counselors)
  • Pastors, priests, rabbis or other religious leaders
  • Community mental health centers
  • Private clinics specializing in mental health
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
  • Local medical or psychological societies

Start with your family health care practitioner. He or she knows your medical history and can determine whether your mental health symptoms are caused by medications or another illness. If your doctor determines that nothing else is responsible for your symptoms, he can refer you to a mental health care professional. And if you suspect you may have a moderate to severe mental health issue, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, you should seek mental health help from a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of mental disorders -- from mild to severe.

Mental Health Support Groups

Mental health support groups are designed to augment, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his or her mental health care provider. Read the list below for links and a short explanation of each mental health support group and any associated mental health support services:

  • National Alliance on Mental health (NAMI) - the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization focused on building better lives for the millions of Americans suffering from mental illness. NAMI has support groups across the country.
  • Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) - provides information on depression and bipolar disorder and support groups across the USA.
  • Mental Health America (MHA) - Dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and achieving victory over mental illnesses through advocacy, education and research.
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) - provides information and support for patients and health professionals.
  • Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) - non-profit, membership organization that provides resources, the latest research, management information on the disorder and support groups in local communities.
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) – long established organization fighting eating disorders across the U.S. Support groups in most major cities.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - People with mental illness, and their friends, can visit this website to: find tools to help in the recovery process; learn about the different kinds of mental illnesses; read stories from real life people suffering from mental health issues; and interact with others to see how getting involved can help recovery.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) - HRSA health centers provide medical care and mental health help for uninsured. You can find HRSA health centers in most cities and in many rural areas.

If you’re interested in participating in a research study or clinical trial for mental health, check the HealthyPlace clinical trials information page or the National Institutes of Mental Health Clinical Trials page. The page lists all the NIMH-funded clinical trials currently recruiting participants.

Free Mental Health Support Services

Support groups listed above are free and open to everyone. If you are looking for mental health diagnosis and treatment and don’t have insurance, the following free mental health support services may be helpful:

  • Your county mental health agency
  • Your county social services agency
  • Your local United Way

Oftentimes, universities or colleges with psychology departments or medical schools provide private treatment options with deeply reduced fees. Some of these facilities may even provide free mental health help for those without insurance or who have a very limited income.

Mental Health Help for Those in Crisis

If you are in a mental health crisis or are thinking about harming yourself or comtemplating suicide, seek help immediately:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the closest hospital emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

A trusted friend or family member can help you make these calls or provide transportation to the hospital emergency room. If you know someone who is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to intervene and get the person to an emergency room or to see a mental health professional. You can find comprehensive information on suicide here.

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