Taking action with your finances, managing your time to improve self-care, and finding affordable mental health care options may help boost your mental health.

Finding mental health solutions can be challenging if you’re low on time, energy, cash, or all three.

If you’ve ever abandoned going to therapy because it was too expensive or felt long-term financial stress over expenses that were piling up, you may know how that feels.

On top of that, caring for your mental health doesn’t always come naturally, especially if your life involves taking care of others, like children or other family members.

But the thing is, the better you care for your own mental health, the better you’ll be able to show up for others. It’s a win-win.

To prioritize your mental and emotional well-being, it may help to take a holistic look at how you can “budget” for your mental health in the following ways:

  • Find affordable mental health care: Activities and other resources to directly promote your mental health.
  • Budget your time for more self-care: Make more space in your life to tend to your overall mental health and well-being.
  • Manage your finances for lower stress: Lowering financial stress can take a lot of pressure off and help boost your mental health.

Here are some ways to find low cost, accessible mental health support.

1. Check whether your school or workplace has in-house help

Schools and large organizations sometimes have in-house mental health care professionals you can access for free or at a lower cost.

Check with a school counselor or your work’s HR department whether they have available resources.

2. Use mental health apps

Using a mental health app on your mobile device can help with anxiety and depression — either on its own or alongside therapy with a mental health care professional.

Studies following people over time have found that mental health apps can provide sustained benefits after 11 weeks.

Mindfulness meditation apps, like Headspace and Calm, have also been shown to help improve perceived stress, quality of life, and symptoms of anxiety.

Many also have free trials, so you can decide whether they work for you without paying for a subscription during the trial period.

3. Telehealth therapy

Telehealth refers to the range of online services, telecommunications, and videoconferencing options for accessing mental health services.

It’s also known as telemental health, telepsychiatry, or telepsychology.

For example, you can book a therapist for a session via phone, videoconference, or even by live text chat.

It can save you time off from work, save potential travel and child care expenses, and it can sometimes cost less than talking with a therapist in person, though costs vary by therapist and platform.

4. Try workbooks and worksheets at home

Many of the principles and exercises that a therapist might guide you through in therapy sessions are available in workbook form.

If you know what kind of therapy you’re looking for, you may be able to find an inexpensive or free workbook or two that you can go through at your own pace.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are examples of therapy types to consider.

If you have a therapist, ask what they’d recommend for you.

5. Find insurance coverage

Check any insurance you have through work or other sources to see whether it covers mental health support, such as therapy.

For example, you may be able to access it through your workplace benefits.

6. Look at lower cost therapy options

Look into what your health insurance benefits offer first. You may be able to find competitive rates and comprehensive mental health care coverage with the right insurance provider.

In addition, FindTreatment.gov allows users to search for clinics that offer payment assistance, including sliding-scale payment.

With sliding-scale therapists, the cost depends on your income. You can also look for free services in your region.

Another option for affordable virtual therapy is Online-Therapy.com, which offers therapy for between $39.95 and $79.95 per week.

Learn more about low cost and free therapy services.

7. Join a support group

Getting together with people who have similar concerns can provide amazing relief and support for your mental health.

You can consider joining a local group. Here are a few organizations that offer them in many places across the United States:

You can also ask your doctor or therapist for a support group recommendation.

Learn more about finding mental health resources.

Time management is an important way to stay on top of your work — in your career and throughout your life. It involves identifying your goals and organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling the tasks you need to achieve them.

Managing your time helps reduce stress, for example, by preventing your list of to-dos from piling up and becoming overwhelming.

On the other hand, mismanaging your time can lead to burnout.

James Clear, author of the bestselling book ‘Atomic Habits,’ suggests a few ways to budget your time better.

8. Focus on one task at a time and set aside everything else while you’re doing it

If you’re multitasking or distracted from your task, you may not get it done nearly as fast or at all.

Instead, you can choose to focus on one specific task at a time, block off time to do it, and remove all distractions. Try not to allow anything to interrupt, and if something does, set it aside to follow up on later.

And avoid checking your phone for no reason. Consider leaving it in another room while you work. It’s a great way to get work done fast so you can save time to focus on the things that matter most, like activities that boost your mental health.

9. Do the most important thing first

Have you ever spent a whole day putting something off, then never actually getting it done? It can lead to a lot of stress if you spend the entire day worrying about it.

To reduce that stress and feel good at the end of the day, do the most important task of your day first.

10. Stay true to your schedule

It can be tempting to postpone your meditation or exercise break because you have less time than you wanted, or it’s raining, for example.

But sticking to your schedule has a powerful effect over time.

It can help you make sure you’re scheduling those mental health-boosting activities, even on less-than-ideal days.

So, instead of ditching your dance class because you’re running behind schedule, it’s most likely fine to just get there late. Or switch out the in-studio yoga for a few minutes of YouTube yoga from home.

Doing this can help make you more likely to keep up the habit.

There’s a connection between your finances and your mental health. For example, researchers have found that people who are experiencing financial stress are more likely to have depression.

This effect appears to happen in people at all income levels, but it’s especially strong in people with lower incomes.

Some factors are outside your control, but you may be able to reduce your financial stress by modifying a few key things.

11. Track your spending

Looking at 1 to 2 months’ worth of your expenses can reveal a lot hidden under the surface.

Those frequent visits to the corner store or Uber rides might have seemed like no big deal, but they can add up.

But if a larger expense, like rent or your car, puts you on the edge month after month, it may be time to look for creative solutions.

Think big, as these larger factors may require bigger life changes.

For example, you may consider:

  • using alternative transport, such as biking, carpooling, walking, public transit, or a car-share service
  • moving to a lower-cost home or neighborhood
  • getting roommates or moving in with your partner

Of course, many people may not be able to make these particular changes, as it depends on your situation and feelings.

But consider stepping outside your comfort zone to think about what’s possible for you and how you could make it work.

The Financial Literacy and Education Commission offers online tools, including an online calculator, downloadable worksheets for budgeting, and planning checklists.

12. Save up for special occasions and big future purchases

Set aside a set amount each month in a high interest savings account for specific expenses in your future. You’ll thank yourself later.

Buying a home or car, taking care of an aging parent, planning for retirement, and having a new baby are all examples of future occasions that require planning ahead.

You can opt to set up automatic withdrawals so you don’t have to think about it or put a note on your calendar to make the transfer each month.

13. Set aside money for an emergency fund

The typical recommendation is to save around 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses, but it depends on your situation.

Consider the types of unexpected expenses that have come up for you in the past or that are possible in your situation. Set a goal amount to save, then work toward it by putting aside an affordable amount each month — even if it’s small.

Knowing you have money available can seriously ease stress.

14. Reduce impulse buys

There are endless things to purchase. It’s easy to feel constant pressure to buy stuff, but it can make a big dent in your budget.

When you’re really getting excited about buying something but you know it’s not a good idea long term, consider asking yourself, “Will I care about this purchase in 1 month? Will I use it regularly, or will it go unused?”

Still, it can be hard to walk away, especially from an online shopping cart. It may help to disengage yourself in the moment by closing the browser tab, telling yourself you’ll think about it and come back later, and then focusing on a different activity you enjoy.

Mental well-being doesn’t always fall in your lap. It can be easy to set aside self-care when life gets busy.

However, consciously seeking out mental-health-boosting activities can help.

Consider “budgeting” for your mental health by reviewing your finances, managing your time to avoid burnout, and finding affordable mental health care options.