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Despite the stigma that surrounds conversations on mental health, many people have experienced mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says one in five adults in the United States experienced mental illness in 2019.

CDC data from June 2020, about 3 months into the pandemic, reported that nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults experienced mental health symptoms of depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder. This was a significant increase in reported symptoms compared to the same time period in 2019.

No matter what your situation is, help is out there. Mental health counselors have the tools to help you manage moments of uncertainty and mental well-being.

Here’s everything you need to know about mental health services: what they are and where you can find them.

Mental health services help people manage psychological and behavioral health issues, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. They are obtainable through health insurance providers, Medicaid, local training institutes, or private therapists.

Mental health counselors work one-on-one with patients to assist them with emotional, psychological, and cognitive issues. They may counsel individuals, couples, and even families to facilitate a nurturing and constructive therapy environment.

Counselors aren’t just for patients experiencing psychological issues. They serve a wide array of clients.

“The great thing about the world of mental health today is that there are different types of services available for everyone,” says Allyson Timmons, a licensed mental health counselor and the owner of Envision Therapy. “The focus of our society has shifted from a predominantly medical perspective to a more all-encompassing view, with a spotlight on the importance of the mind,” she explains.

Outpatient vs. inpatient care

Mental health services can target various conditions. Outpatient programs include psychotherapy — commonly referred to as talk therapy — psychiatry, and trauma-focused therapies.

“In outpatient settings, individuals can connect with resources, providers, and groups that allow them to work on their goals and address their concerns for less severe symptoms and issues. There are services available for all age ranges, individuals, couples, and families,” explains Timmons.

On the other hand, residential mental health programs provide services for those experiencing more severe symptoms related to long-term diagnoses. This includes substance use disorder and eating disorder recovery programs, among others.

According to Mental Health America, inpatient mental health care can also suit patients who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Whether a patient chooses inpatient or outpatient care depends on the seriousness of their situation. Inpatient care, however, can allow patients to be closely monitored, help adjust medications, or provide immediate care during an acute episode in which a person’s mental state worsens temporarily.

“In each of those realms [outpatient and inpatient], you will find that providers can pull from a multitude of evidence-based modalities to tailor to one’s specific needs,” says Timmons.

Types of therapy

The common forms of therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Cognitive behavioral therapy

The American Psychological Association (APA) deems cognitive behavioral therapy useful for a range of problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders and severe mental illness.

Dialectical behavioral therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on managing painful emotions and decreasing conflict in relationships. It is especially useful for personality disorders, and it is commonly used to treat borderline personality disorder.

The therapy model can also be applied to eating disorders, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

EMDR therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. Therapists primarily practice this form of treatment on patients with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During EMDR, patients relive traumatic or triggering experiences while a therapist guides their eye movements. Because of the diversion, the patient can be exposed to difficult memories without having a strong psychological response.

Through a commitment to EMDR, patients can find the technique lessens the negative impact the memories have on them.

It’s important to note that the research on the effectiveness of EMDR is mixed. However, it is “conditionally recommended” by the APA as a treatment for PTSD.

The benefits of mental health services are plentiful. According to a 2002 study, after patients were provided counseling, “there was a significant reduction in severity of symptoms” of depression, self-esteem, anxiety, and overall quality of life.

Coping mechanisms, stress relief, organizational techniques, and goal setting are all constructive tools to apply to your everyday life outside your therapy sessions.

Counseling may also help you:

  • improve communication skills
  • boost your self-esteem
  • make healthier lifestyle choices
  • strengthen relationships with family members or loved ones through group counseling
  • build strategies to manage stress and anxiety
  • practice mindfulness

According to research from 2015, the director of the National Institutes of Mental Health observed that, although psychosocial interventions have received much less marketing attention, they’re “arguably more ecouraging” than pharmacological treatments.

A study cited by the APA found that the results of psychotherapy “tend to last longer and [are] less likely to require additional treatment courses than psychopharmacological treatments.”

Searching for mental health services may feel intimidating, but there are many resources to help you connect with a professional who meets your needs.

Searching for in-network providers

To begin the search for a mental health expert, start by seeking an in-network provider through your insurance company. Find a list of covered mental health counselors by calling your insurance or visiting their online database of in-network providers.

Thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, mental health care and physical health care are to be treated equally, meaning an appointment with a mental health counselor shouldn’t cost more than a physical health appointment.

Finding a therapist in your community

With a growing need for mental health care, college campuses and various academic institutions, government agencies, community health centers, hospitals, and mental health clinics typically employ counselors.

Mental health counselors also work at private practices in your community.

The APA’s Psychologist Locator and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s online database allow you to easily search an online database of counselors in your area.

Visiting a federally qualified health center

If you’re uninsured, you can still find services. Depending on your financial situation and environment, you can contact a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

These community spaces are funded by the government and serve underprivileged populations by providing comprehensive medical services, like mental health counseling.

Some examples include community health centers, migrant health centers, health care for residents of public housing, and outpatient programs offered by tribal organizations. You can search the Health Resources and Services Administration database to find the closest FQHC in your area.

Getting help through medicaid

Medicaid is the single largest payer for mental health services in the United States. The joint federal and state program provides health coverage to more than 72.5 million Americans, and it covers mental health benefits for those in need.

Low-income families, qualified children, pregnant people, and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible to enroll for aid.

While offerings can vary by state, all state programs tend to cover a wide array of mental health services. These services often include counseling, therapy, medication management, social work services, peer support, and substance use disorder treatment.

Finding a private therapist

If your insurance doesn’t cover mental health, many therapists offer rates on a sliding scale based on income. When therapists offer this option to out-of-network or uninsured clients, the determined pricing is based on the client’s capability to pay. This fee structure can significantly reduce the cost of therapy, making sessions available to those from all socioeconomic backgrounds and financial situations.

If you feel you cannot pay the full price for therapy, the psychologist can review your income information and your number of dependents to determine a percentage of the cost you can meet.

Just because the cost is discounted, it doesn’t mean the care is. Licensed therapists give the same dedication to any client, no matter their financial situation.

Finding a therapist online

A 2018 study determined that internet-based therapy has high rates of satisfaction, and was “effective, acceptable, and practical” for treating anxiety and depressive disorders. The study decided that it is just as effective as face-to-face therapy, and it offers the added benefit of privacy and convenience.

It’s no surprise that therapy apps have grown in popularity. Soon after the coronavirus emerged in the United States, Talkspace reported a 10 percent increase in users requesting a therapist. The apps offer an online portal that allows clients to access therapy from anywhere.

Some of the most popular apps include Talkspace, BetterHelp, 7 Cups, Amwell, HealthSapiens, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.

After sharing your needs, the apps will match you with a therapist. You’ll gain access to an online portal with the facility to send text messages, set up video appointments, send voice memos, and make phone calls.

A large appeal of these digital therapy methods is the access to 24/7 care. Typically, a therapist will get back to a client through the messaging app within 24 hours. Online therapy apps are also cost-effective for clients looking to have inexpensive access to healthcare.

For traditionalists seeking face-to-face therapy, many online therapy sites allow clients to plan a video session with therapists right from the client’s computer screen. Websites like Online-Therapy.com and Open Path Collective make it simple to find affordable online therapists.

If you’re going through a difficult time, mental health services can help alleviate your psychological and emotional burdens through therapy.

Mental health counselors specialize in many areas, allowing you to find an excellent match to guide you with coping skills and tools — whether in person or online.