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How to Gain Access to Mental Health Care

Access to mental health care can vary depending on factors such as individual circumstances, geographical location, the healthcare system, etc. When seeking mental health care, the below provides a few tips on how to achieve that goal.

Primary Care Provider:

Contact your primary care physician or medical practitioner. They can address your mental health concerns or provide an assessment, render support, and/or refer you to mental health specialists in your area if that’s needed. Primary care physicians can also prescribe certain medications commonly used in mental health treatment, such as Zoloft, Celexa, Desyrel, Cymbalta, etc., which are typically used to treat anxiety and depression. However, it is important to do your research on each medication to see which would work best for you.

Mental Health Professionals:

You can contact mental health professionals directly, whether that be psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists, or social workers. To find a mental health professional in your area, you can search local directories, speak with family or friends, check various online platforms, or you could request a referral from your primary care provider to be seen by a mental health professional.

Mental Health Clinics or Centers:

Mental health clinics or centers provide various services and treatments. This includes therapy, counseling, psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and support groups, to name a few. Community mental health centers may provide low-cost options. If you do not have the means inquire guidance on where free services can be obtained.

Online Resources:

Check out online mental health resources and/or platforms that offer therapy or counseling services remotely. Teletherapy or telepsychiatry can be a very convenient option, especially if in-person access is limited or if you prefer the flexibility and comfortability of having remote sessions.

Insurance Coverage:

If you have health insurance, review your policy to understand the mental health benefits offered to you and those who are covered under your policy. Ascertain which mental health providers are in network, what services are included, and what the out-of-pocket costs will be incurred. To obtain additional information on covered providers, you can use your insurance providers online directory or contact the insurance company directly by calling the 800 number listed on the back of your insurance card.

**Medicaid holders: You can contact your case manager to find out what programs or services are rendered.

Community Resources:

Local community organizations, non-profit agencies, or support groups may offer mental health services or referrals. They may also have programs tailored for certain populations, such as children, veterans, or marginalized communities. To determine what’s offered, you can contact local helplines or search online directories to find applicable resources.

Employee assistance programs:

If you have an employee assistance program, (EAP), through your workplace, they may provide confidential counseling services or referrals for mental health care. Call your human resources department or EAP provider to discover the available resources.

State employees: Employee Advisory Services, (EAS), is offered to New Jersey state employees. EAS provides services to you, your children, and members of your household. This includes but is not limited to therapy sessions, confidential aid, psychiatric assessments, etc.

Hotlines and crisis services: In urgent or crisis situations, helplines or crisis intervention services provide immediate support and guidance. These services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can assist with crisis management, provide emotional support, access to resources, and issue referrals for applicable mental health professionals.

It's important to advocate for yourself if and when you encounter barriers or challenges in accessing mental health care. If there are financial constraints, ask about sliding-scale fees, reduced-cost and free services, or financial assistance programs. Additionally, consider involving trusted friends, family members, or support networks who can provide encouragement and help navigate the process.

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