Mental health resources can be difficult to navigate. Here’s how to start.
The pandemic has strained both community mental health and the availability of mental health care resources. Local providers recognize increased demand, which can manifest itself in increased wait times and other barriers to care.
Because finding help can be more difficult than before the pandemic, PublicSource has put together resources to help residents connect with providers and community groups and learn more about connecting to available services.
You do not know where to start ?
If you are unsure if therapy is right for you, you can take an anonymous mental health screening online with MindWise Innovations. This can help determine if your current thoughts and feelings may be associated with a common mental health issue. If you decide to seek additional help, there are many ways to go about it.
Finding a therapist can be a daunting task, and finding the right one for you may not happen right away. Psychology Today is a simple and user-friendly way to start your research. The website allows you to enter your zip code to generate a local list of therapists and other mental health providers.
Allegheny County has compiled a list of resources for residents. These are resources for non-emergency services for people over the age of 18. The University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry has compiled a similar list of providers, including mental health drop-in centers for those with more urgent needs. Do you need urgent help?
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Crisis text line: 741-741
Network of Care is a national portal where you can enter your postcode and the type of service you are looking for to find details of local behavioral health services and other mental health information.
Will my insurance cover mental health services?
The cost of care is a common concern when looking for a new provider. It is important to find a service you can afford, but cost should not limit the services you have access to or the quality of care you receive. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Substance Abuse Equity Act requires that insurance coverage for mental health services be comparable to coverage for physical health.
The American Psychological Association has helpful information on navigating your insurance coverage by guiding you through what your insurance is responsible for under parity law. The law generally applies to employer-sponsored health coverage for businesses with 50 or more employees, coverage purchased through health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) and most Medicaid programs. It is important to note that a health plan is allowed to exclude certain diagnoses based on what it considers a physical health issue versus a behavioral/mental health issue.
If you have health insurance, you should be able to find coverage information in your plan itself or on the insurer’s website. If you are unsure, ask your human resources representative or contact your insurance provider directly.
You don’t have insurance? You may be eligible for Medical Assistance, which you can enroll in at any time. You can apply online, in person, by phone or on paper. More information about applying is available from the state.
What kind of services are right for you?
If you’re looking for help with a specific issue like addiction, bereavement counseling, or looking to help a loved one, you may want more specialized help. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has collected various resources on its website that are issue specific if you already have an idea of what you need.
Studies show that patients who feel more aligned with their therapist benefit more from treatment than those who do not feel aligned. This does not necessarily mean that treatment with someone of a different race or sexual orientation will not be helpful, only that patients often benefit more if their practitioner has an authentic understanding of their client’s experience.
Black Americans are more likely to experience lower quality care and lack access to culturally competent services. Seeing a therapist with a historical and cultural grasp can lead to a better understanding of the full extent of a patient’s situation. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has developed a guide to mental health services for Black residents of Allegheny County, and there are also community health resources like Bridges to Health that are designed to help underserved communities in the Pittsburgh area.
What community groups can I connect to?
Active Minds is a non-profit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for young adults. The peer-based organization has local chapters at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne, and aims to educate students about mental health issues and reduce the stigma of seeking help. Active Minds members work to educate students about mental health issues, reduce stigma, and can help you access resources. Find out if your campus has an Active Minds chapter. If not, here’s how to start one.
Steel Smiling is an Allegheny County community group whose goal is to bridge the gap between black people and mental health support through education, advocacy and awareness. They offer a variety of programs to start conversations and train community members on how best to implement these practices.
Forward Allies for Equity in Mental and Reproductive Health is a nonprofit organization that provides support to people giving birth and trains reproductive health providers. They use donation money to cover necessary costs for their interns such as therapy, transportation, and childcare.
Visible Hands Collaboration
Visible Hands Collaborative is an organization that offers certified training in Integrative Community Therapy (ICT), a large group therapy that facilitates community conversation and builds emotional solidarity. Their goal is to bring communities together to unleash the capacity for emotional healing by strengthening these connections.
Are you a student and looking for help?
Pittsburgh colleges and universities offer advice and referrals to other therapists and resources. Here are some examples.
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh Counseling Center can be reached by phone at 412-648-7930 or you can visit their website. They offer services, online and in person, including individual and group counselling. After a number of individual sessions, the university will help you find another off-campus counselor covered by your insurance.
Need urgent help? Call the University Police emergency number: (412) 624-2121
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University students are eligible for Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) at no additional cost. Individual counseling as well as group therapy is offered, as well as the COPE outreach program. Services are also available for faculty and staff.
Need urgent help? Call the University Police emergency number: (412) 268-2323
Short-term confidential personal psychotherapy is offered to all students enrolled at Duquesne University. Therapy groups and workshops are available upon request. Duquesne also offers wellness resources, in person or online, for issues students may have but don’t feel the need to consult.
Need urgent help? Call the University Police emergency number: 412-396-2677
Carlow offers weekly telehealth sessions that meet as a group. These sessions are confidential within these groups and will not be revealed to anyone outside the session. If you are a Carlow student looking for one-on-one, long-term or short-term care, the university recommends these services.
Need urgent help? Call the University Police emergency number: (412) 578-6007
Elizabeth Prall is a PublicSource Writing and Engagement Intern. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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