Therapy FAQ

Need Therapy but Can’t Afford It? Here’s What to Do

Learn about free and low-cost therapy options for those who can’t afford it. Explore resources like NAMI HelpLine, school services, and Employee Assistance Programs. Prioritize mental health with self-care tips like staying active, building a healthy sleep routine, staying socially connected, and adding mindfulness to your life.

isbell oliva garcia grow therapy By Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Updated on Jun 10, 2024

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Firstly, recognizing you need therapy is a feat and shows that you are ready to seek and receive help. The next thing to consider is: Can you afford it?

Dealing with financial stress seems to be one of life’s necessary evils, and sometimes, it can arise when it’s the least convenient — such as when you realize that you need therapy. Discover some ways to get free or cheap mental health treatment or emotional support here.

How Can I Get Therapy for Free?

In 2019 and 2020, 20.78% of American adults (over 50 million people) were facing mental illness. Of all adults with a mental illness, 42% said they couldn’t receive the care they needed because they couldn’t afford it.

When you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be lonely, especially if you don’t have the means to pay for therapy. However, there are some zero-cost options that, while not therapy, may offer the support you need along with direct access to more resources.

NAMI HelpLine

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine is a free service that provides information, resource referrals, and support to people with mental health conditions, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public. This peer-supported facility is run by experienced, well-trained staff and volunteers who can guide you through telephone calls, text messaging, or email.

Not only can the staff and volunteers extend empathy, having dealt with their own experiences, but they can also be an ear when you need extra support. They’re trained to point you in the right direction of the best resources for your specific concerns.

Teens and young adults can access the NAMI Teen and Young Adult HelpLine and speak with a young person who offers information, resources, and support to help them through difficult times.

School Services

Young people may have access to free therapy through their school or college. Those in high school diagnosed through the public school system and with a qualified Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may be eligible for free therapy sessions. It’s best to go through the school administrator to ask about this.

If you’re in college, try checking out your campus’s counseling or health center to see if there are any free therapeutic services on campus or in your area.

Religious/Community Organizations

Much is being done to connect faith communities with mental health services to support those who need it and may not have the funds to access private therapy.

In 2018, the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (the Partnership Center) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a program connecting religious communities with mental health professionals. Since then, the center has met with many faith leaders, mental health professionals, people with lived experience, caregivers, and the government to discuss how faith communities can improve the support and care offered for those with mental health concerns.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also been actively involved with faith-based and community organizations associated with substance use and mental health services. It offers training programs to faith leaders in substance use prevention, addiction treatment, and mental health services to better help their congregations.

If you are part of a faith-based community, try contacting your faith leader about accessing free mental health support.

Employee Assistance Programs

You may access mental health support through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers free assessment, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees experiencing personal or work-related problems — and it’s all confidential.

EAPs offer support across various issues affecting a person’s mental and emotional well-being, including alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.

To find out whether your place of work offers EAPs, you should speak with the human resources department.

What Are Some Low-Cost Therapy Options?

If you can’t access free mental health support, you may have some suitable affordable therapy options.


Medicaid provides free or low-cost healthcare and some mental healthcare coverage for 87 million Americans. Additionally, seven million individuals receive Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) coverage.

People eligible for Medicaid include low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. To qualify, enrollment eligibility is based on income, household size, disability, and family status, among other factors. Find out now if you qualify for Medicaid based on income.


People aged 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease qualify for Medicare, a federal health insurance program that helps cover the costs of hospital insurance (Medicare Part A), medical insurance (Medicare Part B), and prescription drugs (Medicare Part D). To find out more about the mental health services Medicare covers, click here.

Sliding Scale

If you are on a low income and don’t have health insurance but require therapy, you may be able to agree on a sliding scale payment plan with your chosen therapist. A sliding scale is when a patient and therapist agree on a reduced rate based on the patient’s income. It’s a great way of making mental health care more accessible for those who earn less.

Therapy With Health Insurance

Many health insurance companies cover different kinds of psychotherapy, depending on your plan. Once you’ve found a health insurance plan that works for you, you’ll need to find the right in-network therapist for your mental health needs.

To understand your health insurance plan, read your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). This should be mailed to you once you’ve taken out a plan, or a digital version should be made available to you. Alternatively, you can contact your insurance company and enquire about your plan and benefits.

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Peer Support Groups

Speaking with people who are going through the same thing as you and can empathize with how you feel may be just what you need to feel seen and heard — this is what peer support groups can offer; it’s similar to group therapy but at a lower cost, often free.

A mental health professional leads some groups, but no matter who is leading the group, it’s a chance for individuals to come together in a safe space and share their stories and experiences to not only reduce feelings of isolation but also help others find solace in their mental health journey.

To find in-person support groups in your area, try locating your Mental Health America affiliate, or if you prefer to attend support groups online, join Mental Health America’s Inspire online community.

4 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Whichever route you take to seek treatment or support, there are other ways you can prioritize your mental health. Here are a few self-care tips for you to follow:

1. Stay Active

There are so many reasons being active is important, but a big reason for many is that exercise helps with mental health. It can give you more self-esteem, energize you, make you more resilient, help to relieve muscle tension from stress, and boost your well-being through the release of endorphins — and that’s not even the full list.

Starting small is key, even if you walk for 10 minutes around the block. Make it fun — try listening to audiobooks or motivational self-help podcasts — and to find a type of exercise you enjoy, this way you are more likely to keep it up.

2. Build a Healthy Sleep Routine

The power of sleep can be underestimated, but it’s a significant factor in how well your mind and body function. In fact, a lack of sleep can contribute to the onset and worsening of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

To build a healthy sleep routine, follow these ten tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

Remember, most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night while teens usually need eight to 10 hours, so consider this when you’re planning your sleep routine.

3. Stay Socially Connected

Humans are innately social and seek community and connection, so it’s not surprising that social connection is linked to mental wellness. Studies have shown that deeply connected people have lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, higher rates of empathy, and better emotional and physical well-being.

Try scheduling regular times for calling friends, family members, and loved ones so that it becomes a habit. Plan events or hangouts with friends and try to follow through with your commitments so that you don’t end up feeling lonely.

4. Add Mindfulness to Your Life

Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. There are many other things you can do to practice mindfulness and learn to tune into the present moment, such as bonding with nature, yoga, mindful walking, or a body scan. A body scan walks you through bringing awareness to the different parts of your body and how they feel. You can start from your feet, and finish at your head, and it can be easily done from home or anywhere.

Invest in Yourself With Therapy

We hope we’ve given you some ideas on how to access support and therapy services for free or at a low cost. You can also search our Grow Therapy marketplace for therapists who accept Medicaid, Medicare, or your particular health insurance provider. This may bring the price down for your individual therapy sessions.

Despite being an expense that may seem superfluous, your mental health and well-being are extremely important. Not only are they essential for your physical health, but also for your ability to cope in the world, handle stress, relate to others, and make the right choices.

Our qualified therapists are ready to offer the support you need to keep your mental health in top condition.


  • According to Mental Health America, the benefits of therapy include: - Feeling stronger in the face of challenges - Changing behaviors that hold you back - Looking at ways of thinking that affect how you feel - Healing pains from the past - Building relationship skills - Figuring out your goals - Strengthening your self-confidence - Coping with symptoms - Handling strong emotions like fear, grief, or anger - Enhancing your problem-solving skills

  • Of the 20.78% of American adults, or 50 million people, experiencing mental illness from 2019 to 2020, 42% said that they weren’t able to receive the care they needed because they couldn’t afford it. Taking advantage of your insurance or opting for low-cost options can help you prioritize your mental health.

About the author
isbell oliva garcia grow therapy Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Isbell Oliva-Garcia is a licensed mental health counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish. Isbell specializes in treating individuals with depression, anxiety, and issues during difficult life transitions.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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