All Of The Mental Health Resources You Need To Get And Give Help

It's common for people to experience mental health highs and lows. At some point in our lives, we may lose a loved one, undergo periods of chronic stress, suffer heartbreak, or experience a random but intense bout of sadness. While all of these powerful emotions can take their toll on the mind, they are everyday challenges that most people can overcome with time. It's a cause for concern when these negative thoughts and feelings become persistent. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, this persistence can lead to extreme mood changes, poor eating and sleeping habits, drug and alcohol dependence, and social avoidance, among other worrying symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. These mental illnesses include behavior and emotional disorders and range in severity. Of course, you don't have to be diagnosed or suffer from a mental illness to struggle with your mental health (via CDC). Substance abuse, addiction, and thoughts of suicide are all serious issues that can not only be detrimental to our mental health but cause actual problems in our day-to-day lives. Marginalized communities are also at risk for mental health disparities due to inaccessibility, mental health stigma, lack of awareness, and discrimination.

Despite the lingering cobwebs of stigma surrounding mental health and treatment, there are numerous treatment options designed to fit different issues and lifestyles. Here is everything you need to get help and also give it.

Find a licensed therapist

Perhaps the most obvious but nerve-wracking resource for working on your mental health is to find a licensed therapist. There are different types of professionals who can assist, including psychologists and psychiatrists. According to Your Health in Mind, psychologists can hold either a master's degree or a doctorate level of psychology education. They are experts in diagnosing and treating a variety of mental illnesses. In fact, a psychiatrist has more than a decade's worth of education and training in addition to a medical degree. They also have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. A psychiatrist can prescribe medicine and intensive therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). On the other hand, a psychologist has a broader range of scope. They work with individuals who have learning problems, depression, behavioral problems, and anxiety.

There is no shortage of licensed professionals who can assist with your mental health struggles, no matter how big or small. Psychologist Locator, which is associated with the American Psychological Association, and Psychology Today are websites that match you with a list of psychologists that may be a great fit (via Psychology Today). They find professionals based on your area, your insurance, Telehealth requirements, and the unique issue you are facing. A psychiatrist is focused on medical leadership for the full body, including the mind for a more holistic approach, per the American Psychiatry Association.

Call a mental health hotline

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or suffering from a mental illness, calling a mental health hotline is an excellent resource. All crisis hotlines are confidential and allow access to everyone from trained volunteers and professional counselors.

According to Today, The National Suicide Prevention recently switched its hotline, making it easier to remember and limiting the number of fake calls and unbridled stigma associated with mental health issues. To contact The National Suicide Prevention Hotline, call 988. According to the organization, this hotline shift showcased their dedication to mental health services and giving people the opportunity for better outcomes via immediate crisis care. The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline went live in July 2022 and is active across the United States via phone, text, and live chat (via 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline). Calling 211 is also a newer hotline resource that connects people to long-term mental health resources, per 211.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are numerous other crisis hotlines for specific struggles. Veterans can call 1-800-723-TALK (8255) or text their concerns to 838255 24/7. People who are experiencing mental health distress as a result of a natural disaster can talk to someone by calling or texting 1-800-985-5990. Finally, people struggling with a specific type of crisis can text the word "Home" to 741741 or message a crisis counselor on WhatsApp at the Crisis Textline.

Get support from a group

Individuals struggling with mental health issues, addiction, and/or substance abuse can also benefit from the support of a group. Support groups may sound intimidating or awkward. However, finding the right group to talk to can be immensely helpful for gaining perspective and working through your own issues. Group therapy is available in a variety of organizations. According to Mental Health America, some therapy groups are led by mental health professionals while others are peer-led. Anyone who attends can talk about whatever they need to get off their chest, although most groups are catered to specific topics like divorce, grief, or depression. Most groups are in-person, but more and more are available online in the form of blogs, webinars, and discussion boards.

Family therapy is useful for working through complicated family dynamics. It also helps people with mental illnesses and addiction recovery. Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, family therapy comes from the idea that a family unit is like a machine with different moving parts. Each part can trigger potential changes in another area of the machine. Group therapy with your family, whatever that means to you, can help you address bad behaviors, resist old patterns, resist triggers, and avoid making excuses for your mistakes.

If you're unsure where to find a support group that aligns with your needs, go to Mental Health America Affiliate which can help you locate groups in your community (via the Mental Health America Affiliate Resource Center).

Where to find mental health resources for marginalized communities

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, underrepresented communities are severely lacking in mental health resources. Minority groups such as Native Americans and Indigenous peoples, African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and Asian Americans are all more likely to experience the risk factors proven to lead to mental health disorders (via Nursing at USC). Per the American Psychological Association, these risk factors include lack of insurance, financial security, social class, education, discrimination, and more. Some groups receive up to 50% less mental health care and support than privileged groups and struggle with limited awareness about mental health and mental illness.

Resources to support the mental health of marginalized communities are varied depending on the specific need. Trans people in need of peer support or community can contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860, a hotline that specializes in radical community care (via Trans Lifeline). Additionally, The Trevor Project is the world's largest mental health organization for suicide prevention in LGBTQ+ people, with public education and crisis services available 24/7.

Per the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are numerous resources and organizations available for different communities. The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, Therapy for Latinx, the Asian Mental Health Collective, and We R Native are all excellent resources that offer support, education, and connection for men and women of color.

Take a free course

Even if you do not have a background in social work, medicine, or counseling, there are resources available to help you become more knowledgeable about mental health. If you would like to learn how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health problem or developing mental health issues, consider taking a class with Mental Health First Aid. This course trains you to not only identify and understand mental illnesses and addictions but also know how to respond to them (via Mental Health First Aid). Becoming a Mental Health First Aider is a great way to be prepared and support the people closest to you if they begin to experience a mental health crisis. The courses follow a national curriculum and are taught by certified instructors.

Although nothing can replace the knowledge, support, and expertise of a licensed therapist, many people are uncomfortable or intimidated by the thought. In this case, finding an online program through This Way Up is likely to support your mental health journey. This Way Up is a combination of evidence-based, internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs. Their goal is to make mental health education more accessible to the people who need it most. The non-profit organization offers numerous online programs for mental health issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia, panic, health anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each clinically-proven course teaches practical skills that can help manage mental health symptoms, including mindfulness and meditation training.

Volunteer for a crisis hotline

Organizations that help support the mental well-being of others often rely on volunteers to help provide their critical services. The idea of volunteering in such a serious role may sound frightening or stressful, and, according to Better Humans, it can be. It requires motivation, positivity, dedication, and a commitment to maintaining your own mental health. However, it is also an incredibly valuable and much-needed way to spend your time. Furthermore, according to Mental Health America, helping others will help you experience less pain and less depression and can improve your longevity. However, most crisis hotlines require being 18 years or older.

If you are interested in volunteering for a crisis hotline, consider working with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The revamped hotline provides free, confidential, 24/7 support for prevention, crisis, and distress. There are over 200 crisis centers in the United States staffed by trained individuals who answer calls, texts, and chats. 

You can also become a remote crisis counselor with the Crisis Textline. This service allows people in crisis to text someone instantly, connecting them to a person who can help them problem solve, collaborate, and actively listen to the struggles they're working through. Becoming a crisis counselor involves 30 hours of training and a time commitment of four hours per week, totaling 200 hours per year. The training is free, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Donate to non-profits that support mental health

You don't have to be a crisis hotline volunteer to support mental health-focused non-profits. If you have some money to spare, donating can help bolster your community's mental health resources and ensure they can continue to provide their services to folks in need. In addition to major organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, there are many smaller but equally vital organizations to which you can donate.

The Jed Foundation is a mental health resource center that helps teens and young adults manage their emotional health and cope with life's challenges. This foundation supports more than eight million people in schools and programs across the country, with the goal to equip students with important life skills and help-seeking behaviors they can carry with them into adulthood. Furthermore, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit that helps people struggling with self-harm, depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. Your donation to TWLOHA helps invest in treatment and recovery programs for struggling individuals. The Loveland Foundation and Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness both support the validation, healing, and psychological well-being of Black women and girls. The Loveland Foundation helps women and girls receive therapy support while simultaneously supporting female empowerment. According to Sista Afya's website, its mission is to provide low-cost mental wellness care to Black women through education, workshops, resources, and therapy.

Participate in mental health awareness campaigns

Awareness and breaking the stigma behind mental health struggles are sometimes half the battle. Businesses, educational institutions, and workplaces are all places where mental health can suffer, and places where people struggle to feel comfortable talking about the issue (via the Center for Workplace Mental Health). That is why awareness campaigns are so important.

According to Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, Mental Health Awareness Month was created by Mental Health America. The goal of the initial campaign was to raise awareness about common mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Now, every May mental health resources and education are recognized on a widespread platform. This is especially important in the workplace, where recent numbers indicate that 50% of Gen Z and 37% of baby boomers are experiencing worsening mental health as a result of our political, cultural, and societal climate, per GWI.

Participating in mental health awareness campaigns doesn't have to mean volunteering or donating. There are more than 120 walks across the country organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness each year. Major federal organizations are also stepping up with their own campaigns to help ease the burden of mental health. The U.S. Department of Labor's 2022 mental health at work campaign put together materials designed to create inclusive, safe workplaces that provide mental health support and accommodations, per SHRM. Putting up a poster on your office door, sharing social media posts, and encouraging people to talk about their issues can all help someone in need.

Tips for supporting a colleague or employee with their mental health

So much of our lives are tied directly to our workplaces. We spend roughly one-third of our lives at work, which equals more than 90,000 hours (via Gettysburg). This means the people we spend a large chunk of our time with are our colleagues. Despite this, most workplaces are professional spaces in some capacity, which can make talking about mental health struggles amongst colleagues or employers feel impossible.

Employers, bosses, and managers all have a responsibility to support their employees' mental health. According to BetterUp, employers who invest in mental health care see a 4x return on investment in their employees in the form of better retention, as well as increased productivity and creativity. Providing mental health resources in the form of employee benefits programs, mental health training, mental health coverage, and communication about the importance of mental health in the office can all help reduce stigma and encourage healthy, happy employees.

On a less institutional level, if you notice a co-worker struggling with their mental health, there are a few ways you can help them. According to Mental Health America, asking open-ended, non-invasive questions can help open a dialogue between you and your co-worker. Actively listening to their issue, recognizing their feelings and experiences, and avoiding offering advice are all ways to support them. You can also encourage your colleague to reach out for mental health resources, either through your workplace or online.

Tips for supporting a friend or family member with a mental illness

Supporting the people you love as they struggle with a mental illness can be difficult. It's hard to know what the right thing to say is or how to act. Being there for someone who has a diagnosed mental illness or struggling with their mental health can also be scary (via Here to Help). However, there are some general tips that can help you from feeling powerless or unprepared when faced with this issue.

Education is a major component of helping support loved ones with their mental health. Knowing the signs and treatments for a particular illness can help you know how to help with medication, doctor's appointments, and even when it's time to seek help in a crisis. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle based on nutrition, healthy exercise, and proper sleep is also helpful. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness, simply being there as a person to talk to is a good way to support others. Strive to be approachable and a good listener, and don't press them to talk about things they aren't ready or willing to. Always be respectful and give them hope for recovery.

According to Rethink Mental Illness, supporting someone with a mental illness, be they a friend or family member, can lead to financial, practical, and even emotional problems such as stress. It's important to take care of yourself as well and remember that no matter how difficult things might get, you are not to blame.