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Getting appropriate care while dealing with depression can be daunting at first, but it is often the first step toward recovery. Finding the right provider and the appropriate level of treatment, though, can be difficult, because of financial constraints, concerns about the provider’s ability to care for your specific needs, and many other factors.

Below you’ll find information for finding a mental health provider who can more effectively meet your needs. You’ll also find important information about different levels of care, along with types of treatment available.

General Information Regarding Care for Depression

How to Know When to Seek Care for Depression

While you are ultimately the judge of when it makes sense to seek care for depression, there are two questions to ask yourself: 


  • Distress: How upset are you feeling about what you’re experiencing? How intense are your unwanted emotions (sadness, numbness, hopelessness, etc.), and how frequent are they?
  • Impairment: How much is the depression getting in the way of things you want to do (or used to want to do – such as spend time with friends, or do a favorite hobby), or need to do (such as do schoolwork or go to work).

If you’re still unsure about what to do, this depression screening from Mental Health America might help to clarify things.


While it is easy to ignore your feelings, distract yourself from depression, or convince yourself that what you’re feeling isn’t “that bad,” prolonging your struggle often makes things worse. Getting help is a sign of strength. Professional support can help you to feel better, and the resources on this page can help with accessing the right support for you. Want more info? Check out our article on seeking help when depressed.



Types of Mental Health Providers

Psychiatrist / Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatrists: Medical doctors (MD/DO) who can prescribe medication to their patients. Some also offer psychotherapy.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners: can also diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe medication. Depending on the state, some may practice independently, others may need to practice under the oversight of a medical doctor.




Psychologists have doctoral degrees (PhD or PsyD) and have significant training in understanding how the mind and behavior correspond.

PhD: doctoral degree that tends to have a significant research focus in addition to clinical skills training. The goal of having a PhD in Psychology is to advance the knowledge of mental health issues and methods to treat them.


PsyD:  a doctoral degree that is typically more clinically-oriented. People with PsyDs work with people who seek therapy or in more intensive settings. The focus of a PsyD is to apply scientific knowledge directly to psychology practice.



Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

An LPC/LMHC has a Master’s in Counseling and a significant amount of training, along with a state certification. They can offer counseling to clients, such as ways to create a better relationship with mental health or strategies to cope with emotions.



Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW/LICSW)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers have a Master’s degree in social work and have had thousands of supervised clinical hours. Clinical social workers work in a variety of settings, from community-related fields to private practices. Like other Master’s-level clinicians, they can provide therapy, and their social work background may help them to develop a more holistic stance when it comes to treatment. 



Accessing Care - General

Have Insurance / Can Afford Treatment
  • Providers In-Network: Look in-network with your insurance to see list of recommended providers.
  • Therapy directories:
    • Zencare is a database of vetted therapists. Includes videos of therapists, insurance information, clinical specialties, and up-to-date information. Ability to have 10 min free initial consultation call with therapists. Only in some states.
    • PsychologyToday and TherapyDen are large databases of therapists in the U.S.
  • Contact local counseling centers to inquire about potential therapists.
  • Resource specialist: Contact resource specialists such as Resources to Recover, an organization that offers families affected by mental illness guidance, support and information on the best practices and providers in recovery-oriented mental health care.
  • Care Navigation: Work with a care navigation and support group such as the O’Connor Professional Group to find a therapist.
  • Out-of-Network Benefits: If provider is out-of-network, consider submitting a “superbill” to your insurance in order to possibly receive reimbursement. Contact your insurance to learn how to do this, or utilize services such as Reibursify or GetBetter to assist with the process.
Don't Have Insurance / Difficulty Affording Treatment

Don’t have insurance/have difficulty affording treatment? Try the following options:

Community Health Centers & Free Clinics
  • Contact a community health center and/or community mental health center. Find one here.
  • Contact a free clinic to inquire about services. Find a free/low cost clinic here. 
Private Therapists
  • See if private therapists are willing to work on a sliding scale (especially those who don’t take insurance).
  • OpenPathCollective – a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate.
Teaching Hospitals
  • See about clinics where you can get reduced cost treatment from psychiatry residents and/or clinical psychology students. Call the psychology, psychiatry, or behavioral health department & inquire about sessions with graduate students, who are supervised and can provide services at a lower cost as they gain counseling experience.
  • NAMI HelpLine can be helpful for your treatment-related questions (M-F 10a-6p or email Can also consult local NAMI affiliate here.
  • SAMHSA is a government organization that maintains a database of low-cost treatment facilities across the U.S. and is a “go-to” resource for locating affordable mental health care nationwide. Contact SAMHSA at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or online at their Treatment Locator.
Social Services Databases
Place of Worship
  • Local place of worship (if applicable) may offer counseling from a trained minister, rabbi, priest, imam, etc., which is usually free. Most are members of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. If your place of worship doesn’t have counseling, they may have a fund available to help you pay for treatment.
Place of Employment
  • If employed, you may want to see whether or not your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). An EAP is an employer-paid benefit that is separate from your medical plan. It’s designed to help employees through difficult situations.
    • Employees usually can access counseling through an EAP for no cost, however there is usually a limit to the number of free sessions.
    • To check if you have an EAP, call the 800 number on the back of your insurance card or call your HR department.
Online/App-Based Therapy
  • Online/App-Based therapy can be helpful and more affordable for some people. Some options are:
    • BetterHelp, TalkSpace or 7 Cups of Tea, which charge a fee per week.
    • Real is a new online therapy platform for under $30/month that offers self-directed therapy pathways and virtual groups
    • Sesh offers online group support led by therapists.
    • Cerebral is an all-inclusive platform that includes psychiatry, care counseling/therapy, and medication delivery for one fixed monthly fee. Cost depends on how much care you need and can get a bit pricey, however if you have insurance it may be more affordable than typical psychiatry & therapy visits.
Treatment Scholarships

The To Write Love On Her Arms organization provides treatment & recovery scholarships to those facing financial barriers to treatment. Fill out a scholarship application here. 

Sources: NBCNews, NAMI

Accessing Care - Specific Populations

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

General BIPOC
  • Inclusive Therapists aims to make the process of seeking therapy simpler and safer for all people, especially marginalized populations.
  • Melanin and Mental Health connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities.
  • The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) is a healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC).
  • The Ayana Therapy app strives to address the strong lack of engagement between minorities and the mental health care industry by matching users with licensed professionals that share their unique traits, values, and sensibilities.
Black and African American Communities
  • Black Mental Health Alliance develops, promotes, and sponsors trusted, culturally-relevant educational forums, trainings, and referral services that support the health and wellbeing of Black people and other vulnerable communities.
  • The Loveland Foundation provides financial support for therapy for Black women and girls.
  • Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. It also has a directory to help with finding culturally-competent therapists.
  • Therapy for Black Men is a directory to help men of color in their search for a therapist.
  • The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is an organization working to change the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging people to get the help they need. Click here for their directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the Black community. 
  • Association of Black Psychologists has a directory comprised of psychologists who lead healing circles related to racial stress and systemic oppression.
Latinx/Hispanic Communities
  • Therapy for Latinx is a national directory of Latinx therapists for the Latinx community.
  • Latinx Therapy is a directory of Latinx therapists. Enter your zipcode to search for a therapist near you.
  • Latinx Therapists Action Network. The Latinx Therapists Action Network Directory is a directory of licensed, culturally grounded, Latinx mental health practitioners who believe in the human rights of migrant peoples.
Native and Indigenous Communities
  • IHS Division of Behavioral Health addresses severe behavioral health issues that impact American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals, families, and communities. To locate mental health programs in your area, search the IHS Healthcare Locator by checking the “Behavioral Health” under “Choose facility types.”
Asian/Pacific Islander Communities



Levels of Treatment

1. (Baseline Level) Treatment with Mental Health Clinician(s)

Receiving treatment from a therapist and/or medications from a psychiatric medication provider is typically the first-line of treatment when someone is diagnosed with mild-moderate depression. Find resources on this page to connect with a mental health care provider.

2. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive Outpatient Programs provide more treatment than typical once-twice/week therapy, but are for people who do not require a higher level of care, such as a partial hospitalization or inpatient. They may also be for people stepping down from a higher level of treatment. 


  • Programs typically operate for about 8-10 hours/week, but this varies. 
  • Programs are usually group-based, but you may also meet with a mental health counselor to address recovery post-discharge.
  • Many programs allow you to continue to meet with your normal outpatient therapist/psychiatrist while participating in the program


How to Find an Intensive Outpatient Program
  • Ask your care team for recommendations. 
  • Consult websites such as PsychologyToday or the SAMHSA Treatment Locator.
  • Simply Google search “Intensive Outpatient Programs + [where you live]” to see what programs exist near you. You may want to add the specifier “mental health,” as many of the programs are geared toward individuals with addiction disorders.


3. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are structured to provide intensive psychiatric care that resembles that of a highly structured, short-term hospital inpatient program. PHPs involve active treatment that incorporates an individualized treatment plan involving coordination of services surrounding the particular needs of the patient. PHPs may be appropriate for people in-need of higher level of care but who are safe enough to go home, or for individuals who are stepping down from inpatient treatment. 

  • PHPs typically last for most of the day, every day, but you are able to go home afterward.
  • They typically consist of therapeutic groups, along with individual meetings with the psychiatrist, case manager, and (sometimes) therapist. 

How to Find a Partial Hospitalization Program
  • Discuss with your care team what level of care might be best for you right now. Ask them for recommendations. 
  • Consult websites such as PsychologyToday (use filters to specify search parameters) or the SAMHSA Treatment Locator.
  • Simply Google search “Partial Hospitalization Programs + [where you live]” to see what programs exist near you. You may want to add the specifier “mental health,” as many of the programs are geared toward individuals with addiction disorders.


4. Residential Program

Residential treatment offers high-quality, wraparound mental health care within a structured, homelike environment that can contribute to healing and a sense of community. As a longer-term option, people may be in residential treatment for a variable amount of time – some programs last for only a few weeks, while others can last for many months.

  • Residentials involve sleeping overnight in the home-like setting.
  • They allow more freedom than an inpatient setting – depending on the residential you are typically able to come and go from the residential facility as you please, as long as you stay within the confines of the campus.
  • Treatment varies depending on the residential, but may involve therapeutic groups, individual therapy, wellness activities such as exercising and art therapy, and more.
  • The vast majority of residential programs are not covered by insurance, and can be quite expensive.

How to Find a Residential Treatment Facility
  • Speak with your care team about places they recommend.
  • Consult the American Residential Treatment Association – they maintain a partial list of residential treatment facilities across the U.S. (NOTE: this list is NOT comprehensive and resources listed can be costly).
  • Contact your local NAMI affiliate to see if they have any recommendations for residentials.
  • Use the Psychology Today directory for psychiatric residential treatment centers.
  • Keep in mind:  CARF International is an independent, non-profit accreditor of health and human services.  On their website you can utilize their Find an Accredited Provider function to locate a CARF-accredited treatment facility.
  • Contact a resource specialist with Resources to Recover, an organization that offers families affected by mental illness guidance, support and information on the best practices and providers in recovery-oriented mental health care.
  • Google search “residential mental health facilities” to get an idea of what options there are. 
  • When vetting a residential facility, ask if they have any evidence to showing the efficacy of the program (few collect this data or share it openly, but it is still worthwhile to ask).



5. (Highlest Level) Inpatient Treatment

When to Consider Going Inpatient

If you’re able, speak with your care team about their recommendations regarding going inpatient.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should consider hospitalization:


  • Have thoughts of hurting yourself or others 
  • Are seeing or hearing things (hallucinations)
  • Have bizarre or paranoid ideas (delusions)
  • Are so revved up or impulsive that you are doing dangerous or harmful things
  • Feel too exhausted or depressed to get out of bed or take care of yourself or your family
  • Can’t stop using alcohol or other substances in harmful ways
  • Have not eaten or slept for several days,
  • Have tried outpatient treatment (therapy, medication and support) and still have symptoms that significantly interfere with your life.
How Hospitalization Can Help
  • Hospitalization creates a safe place to allow severe symptoms to pass and medication to be adjusted and stabilized. It is not punishment and it is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Only those you wish to tell need to know about your hospitalization. This is your health information and not everyone has the right to know about it.
  • You can work with professionals to stabilize your severe symptoms, keep yourself safe and learn new ways to cope with your illness.
  • You can safely stop using alcohol or other substances.
  • You might find a new treatment or combination of treatments that helps you more. 
  • You can get connected to outside mental health services upon discharge. 
  • You can connect with others who are also struggling.
How to Get Admitted

1.If you need immediate help (i.e. are in imminent danger of hurting yourself)

2. If you are not in imminent danger, consider contacting:

    • Your mental health team, who may be able to facilitate a hospital admission without going to the emergency room.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (or visit this website if you are located out of the US, or want a hotline more tailored to your needs (i.e. for LGBTQIA+ individuals, Veterans, etc.)
    • The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
      • Both national emergency lines can support you in coming up with next steps and getting in contact with emergency personnel.
What to Expect During a Psychiatric Hospitalization
  • You will likely be on a locked unit, but may be allowed to leave the unit with supervision if your treatment team gives the “OK”
  • There are therapeutic groups throughout the day that you will be highly encouraged to attend.
  • You likely will not receive individual psychotherapy with a therapist, though some hospitals have this option.
  • Your care team will often consist of a psychiatrist, a case worker to assist with discharge planning, and a nurse.
  • There is no general rule about how long you should stay in the hospital. You may stay a few days or as long as a few weeks, depending on your specific situation.
  • You may have jewelry, personal care items, belts, shoelaces or other personal belongings locked away during your stay. You also may not be allowed to have items with glass or sharp edges, such as picture frames, spiral notebooks, paperclips, etc.
What to Bring to the Hospital

It may be difficult to gather all the necessary clothing/toiletries etc. prior to going to the hospital for an inpatient admission. The following list is meant to assist supporters in helping you with getting everything you need after being admitted. If you do have time prior to admission, you may also use this list as a general packing list, though you may want to check with your particular inpatient institution first.

*Click on the link to enlarge


Click here for a printable version.

Your Rights While Inpatient

– Voluntary Hospitalization is when a person willingly signs forms to be treated in the hospital. A person who is admitted voluntarily may also ask to leave at their discretion. Rules about how quickly the hospital must release you vary from state to state.

– Involuntary Hospitalization occurs when symptoms have become so severe that the person is incapacitated or might be a danger to themselves or others. Rules about involuntary hospitalization vary from state to state. In most cases, you cannot be held longer than a few days without a court hearing.


Your Rights:

  • You have the right to have your treatment explained to you, to be informed of the benefits and risks of your treatment, and to refuse treatment that you feel is unsafe.
  • You have the right to be informed about any tests/exams you are given and to refuse any procedures you feel are unnecessary.
  • You have the right to refuse to be part of experimental treatments or training that involves students or observers.
  • In most states, patients have the rights to fresh air breaks, visitors, receiving mail, and practicing their religion, among other rights. Make sure you read through what your rights are as an inpatient, or ask hospital staff.
  • You have the right the file a complaint if you believe you are being mistreated. You might want to request to speak with the Patient Rights Advocate, if your institution has one.