In a perfect world, each and every person who suffers from any sort of mental illness would receive full access to the appropriate medical care. Unfortunately, many people who have mental health issues have little to no access to the appropriate services whether it be because of employment or health insurance issues.
While most outside resources could never replace the proper care of a mental health professional, there is a whole world of low-cost and even free resources available to those who need them. These resources come in the form of many different outlets.
1. Self-Help Books
Mental health books can be bought online, in a bookstore, in Kindle form, or even found in a local library. The great thing about mental health books is that there are so many different types to choose from that anyone can find the kind that will work for them.
A quick online search can even show you books recommended by psychologists and therapists without you ever having to step foot into a doctor’s office. Whether you’re suffering from anxiety, an eating disorder, or a mood disorder, there are a plethora of books that are meant to give advice, calm you down, or simply help you feel more like you aren’t alone in your battle.
Some books that are most recommended for mental health issues include The Anger Workbook by Lorraine Bilodeau, Distant Drums, Different Drummers: A Guide for Young People With ADHD by Barbara D. Ingersoll, and When Feeling Bad Is Good by Ellen McGrath.
2. Mobile Applications
Mobile applications are the latest development in the quickly growing world of online access to mental health resources. They are helpful for people who have trouble going into public spaces or aren’t quite ready to speak face to face with someone just yet. Apps are also convenient because they are accessible 24/7, and are either free or come at a low cost.
One of the most popular apps right now is the SAM App, which is a tool for those who suffer from generalized anxiety and aims to help them better manage it. SAM allows users to monitor their levels of anxiety with slide bars that measure their feelings at each moment, stores lists of things that can trigger anxiety attacks for the user, and has a social cloud that allows connecting with other users on the app.
Another great app is PTSD Coach, which is for any user who experiences stress after a trauma. PTSD Coach is free and helps users track their symptoms, as well as connects them to a list of services for emergency situations. It also includes a questionnaire to help users self measure their emotions, but again, should never be used in place of professional diagnosis.
3. Online Forums
Sometimes the best way to work through a rough period when you experience mental health issues is to connect with other people who understand what you may be going through. A great way to do this is through online forums.
One great forum is OK2TALK, which is a place for young adults and teens suffering from mental illnesses to connect, blog, and express themselves. The site also provides direct lines to trained employees who are equipped to deal with emergency situations should one arise.
Another forum is the TrevorSpace. TrevorSpace is a part of the Trevor Project Foundation, which is dedicated to providing crisis intervention to LGBTQIA young adults, between the ages of 13-24. The site also offers a safe space for individuals to talk, connect, learn about LGBTQIA related news and updates, and even how to get involved with their local queer community.
Although forums can be a great way to make friends, keep in mind that you should always be cautious about divulging personal information to strangers on the internet, and although the forum moderators do their best to regulate users, sometimes you may run into people who don’t have the best of intentions.
Seeking treatment for mental health issues can be daunting when you’re not sure where to go, whom to tell, and whether or not you can even afford it. These alternatives to traditional treatment can provide relief for those who aren’t at a place where they can visit a doctor, but should never completely replace professional guidance.
These alternatives are mostly about the new and easy ways that the mental health community can continue to grow and advance, giving everyone an equal opportunity to get the help they need.
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