Therapy is expensive. Here are some things you can do to manage your mental health in the meantime.
Mental health struggles aren't something to take lightly. When experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, seeking therapy can help you establish a treatment plan. But what are you supposed to do if you can't afford it? Even with sliding scale payments, it's expensive. Online therapy services like BetterHelp and Talkspace make it more affordable, at around $60 to $90 per session. However, that's still not in the budget for many people.
Therapy will always be the gold standard for mental health treatment. Though circumstances can make it temporarily impossible. These four strategies improve your mental health without spending any money.
Also, see how to naturally treat depression and anxiety and ways you can give yourself a happiness boost each day.
Mental health apps offer resources to people who otherwise couldn't get them. While they're not a substitute for therapy and can't diagnose conditions, mental health apps like Moodfit and Sanvello are great tools to use on your mental wellness journey. The best mental health apps will help you relieve stress and anxiety and teach you how to manage symptoms in the future.
There's a lot of variety in what these apps offer and the features that are built in. Many offer a great catalog of educational resources to help you learn about conditions and adapt coping strategies to manage them daily.
Mental health apps can also be a reminder to check in on yourself. Most send push notifications throughout the day, which can be used as an indicator to stop and assess how you're feeling.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and addiction. CBT strategies and tools are intended to be taken outside of therapy sessions and used in daily life.
It's called self-directed therapy. Again, it isn't a replacement for traditional therapy with a professional, but it can supplement your mental health efforts when you don't have access to talk therapy. This self-help strategy is best reserved for those with moderate symptoms that don't affect daily tasks.
A systematic review of 33 studies found that self-help treatments can decrease anxiety and depression. Self-directed therapy results were "moderate," according to the review. So people didn't feel 100% better, but they reported feeling less anxious or depressed. If you're interested in self-directed therapy strategies to improve your mental well-being, we recommend checking out the Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies list of books. The books on the list have received a "seal of merit."
Common self-directed therapy techniques:
It's important to connect with other people, especially those experiencing similar things. Studies show that connecting to others can provide a sense of meaning and purpose and decrease loneliness. Group therapy or support groups are typically led by a mental health professional or group leader and can be low-cost or free. Whether it be friends, family or strangers, sharing your feelings and experiences is essential.
You also can use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website to locate community resources near you.
Connections with people aren't the only ones that can help improve your mental health. Pets and animals can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Take some intentional time to hang out with your pet -- play with your dog, hug your cat. If you don't have a pet, you can volunteer at a local animal shelter or humane society. Fostering or pet-sitting animals is also an option.
Meditation has a history that stretches back thousands of years, but it's become an extremely popular stress-relieving practice in the last few. Mindfulness helps you become more attuned to what you're feeling and thinking, which helps you manage your thoughts and emotions more effectively, rather than becoming overwhelmed by them. Mindfulness uses techniques like meditation and breathwork to improve your mental health.
Mindfulness can help you manage symptoms of anxiety and other mental health disorders by helping you understand and cope with what you're feeling. Studies show that meditation can help reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety and help you sleep. The focus is on mind and body integration, which can help you enhance your mental well-being.
You can also use meditation apps to reduce stress and help maintain your mindfulness regimen. These free or low-cost apps are great for beginners.
Read more: Headspace Review: Get Tools for Mindfulness, Meditation and More for Just $5 a Month
Self-directed therapy and well-being tactics are extremely useful, but they're not the be-all and end-all in mental health. Face time with a licensed therapist is essential for those with severe conditions and symptoms.
The first thing you should do is check your insurance. Employer-provided insurance and Medicaid may cover screenings, psychotherapy and counseling. Your insurance coverage will depend on your state and your health plan, but many plans include mental health coverage for in-network therapists.
Read more: How to Find the Best Therapist Near You
Your finances shouldn't stop you from getting the help you need. It may take some research into therapists and programs, but there are low-cost options.