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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 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from June 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, reported that nearly 40% of U.S. adults experienced mental health symptoms of depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder. This was a significant increase in reported symptoms compared with 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, including 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. You can get mental health services through health insurance providers, Medicaid, local training institutes, or private therapists.

Mental health counselors work one-on-one with people 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.

Psychiatrists also counsel and offer mental health services as well as medication management using different methods based on biological and psychosocial approaches. Specialty areas include addiction medicine, pain medicine, and sleep medicine, among others.

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

“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.

According to Mental Health America, inpatient mental health care can also suit people who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

Whether a person chooses inpatient or outpatient care depends on the seriousness of their situation. Inpatient care, however, can allow people to be closely monitored. It can offer medication support and 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.

Psychiatry and medication management

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who use medication management, biology, and psychosociology to approach and treat mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

They need to hold either an MD (doctor of medicine) or a DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine), plus advanced qualifications from a 4-year residency and psychiatry specialty. The specialty can include addiction medicine, child and adolescent psychiatry, pain medicine, and more.

Some psychiatrists only manage medication, while others offer comprehensive services like:

  • mental health diagnosis
  • psychological evaluation
  • medication prescriptions and management
  • therapy

Types of therapy

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

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

The American Psychological Association (APA) deems CBT useful for a range of conditions, including:

  • depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • substance use disorders
  • alcohol use disorder
  • marital problems
  • eating disorders
  • severe mental illness

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

DBT focuses on managing painful emotions and decreasing conflict in relationships. It’s especially useful for personality disorders. Mental health care professionals commonly use it to treat borderline personality disorder.

This therapy model can also help treat other conditions, including:

  • eating disorders
  • substance use disorder
  • bipolar disorder

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique that’s used to relieve psychological stress. Therapists primarily practice this form of treatment with people who have trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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

Through a commitment to EMDR, people 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 cost of different mental health services varies depending on the type of service, the provider you use, where you live, and whether you have insurance coverage. Here are some approximate estimates.

Psychiatry and medication management

Psychiatry and medication management can cost about $100 and $300 per appointment, according to BetterHelp. Your initial consultation will most likely cost more and, depending on your insurance coverage, can cost up to $500 and about $100 an hour for follow-up consults.


Depending on the state and session frequency, counseling can cost about $100 to $200 per session on average, reports Forbes.

You might pay per session or per month, depending on whether you’re set up on a subscription service.

Inpatient care

The cost of inpatient care at a residential mental health facility varies widely. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month depending on the facility and what it offers. The cost will largely depend on how long your stay is and the reason for treatment.

For example, a 2012 study using data from community hospitals found that the average 8-day cost of inpatient depression treatment without insurance was around $6,990. For inpatient schizophrenia treatment without insurance, it was $8,509 for an 11-day stay.

Similarly, addiction treatment can also cost thousands of dollars. Inpatient hospital care may cost less than long-term residential facilities, depending on length of stay, accommodations, and what insurance covers, if applicable.

Insurance plans generally cover some level of mental health services, but it depends on the service type, the specific plan, and where you live.

Psychiatry and medication management

Insurance typically covers psychiatry and medication management services. Sometimes, your insurer may cap the number of visits you’re covered for each year unless they document that they’re medically necessary.


Most health insurance plans offer some level of coverage for counseling, but it may not be enough for the amount you need, so out-of-pocket expenses can arise.

Be aware that insurance companies only cover medically necessary services and require a diagnosis to determine what these are for each person.

Inpatient care

Insurance may cover inpatient care costs if treatment is deemed medically necessary. The specific coverage will depend on the terms of your plan, so the best way to find out is to talk with your insurance provider.

The benefits of mental health services are plentiful. According to a 2002 study, after people were provided counseling, “there was a significant reduction in severity of psychiatric symptoms and improvement in 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
  • build strategies to manage stress and anxiety
  • practice mindfulness

According to a review 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 encouraging” 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 82 million people, 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 treatment provider 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 online therapy services had high rates of satisfaction and was “effective, acceptable, and practical” for treating anxiety and depressive disorders.

The study concluded that online CBT 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% in users requesting a therapist. The apps offer an online portal that allows people to access therapy from anywhere.

Below are some Healthline-approved online therapy options:


An online therapy platform accessed through an app, Talkspace matches you with a licensed therapist in your state for ongoing support through secure messaging and live video sessions.

Read our full review of Talkspace here.


This online therapy platform gives you access to licensed and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors.

Full review of BetterHelp here.

7 Cups

7 Cups connects you to volunteer listeners who are trained in advanced skills of compassionate communication.

Read our full review of 7 Cups here.


Amwell is an all-in-one platform that offers many types of care and treatments, including psychiatry, therapy, and urgent care.

Read our full review of Amwell here.


This online platform offers telehealth for individuals and families. It also offers telecounseling, in which you’re matched with a licensed and board certified therapist.


MDLive offers access to therapists and board certified psychiatrists to help treat a wide range of issues, including trauma, job loss, new relationships, divorce, parenting, and more.

Read our full review of MDLive here.

Doctor on Demand

You can choose from a variety of therapists with different specialties and backgrounds. The platform treats a wide range of issues. Services range from therapy to medication management.

Read our full review of Doctor on Demand here.

Looking to find more information about online therapy?

Here’s our picks for the best online therapy platforms.

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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 people looking to have more affordable access to healthcare.

For traditionalists seeking synchronous online therapy, many online therapy sites allow clients to plan a video session with therapists right from the client’s computer screen.

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.