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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Help for Mental Illnesses

Esta página también está disponible en español.

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Use these resources to find help for you, a friend, or a family member.

Please note that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a research funding agency. Resources on this page are provided for informational purposes only. The list is not comprehensive and does not constitute an endorsement by NIMH.

Get Immediate Help in a Crisis

Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988; Llame al 988 (para ayuda en español)
Use Lifeline Chat on the web (English only)
The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. 

Veterans Crisis Line
Use Veterans Crisis Chat on the web 
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans and those who support them, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare.

Disaster Distress Helpline
Call or text 1-800-985-5990

The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need. 

View the 5 action steps for helping someone in emotional pain infographic to see how you can help those in distress.

Find a Health Care Provider or Treatment

Treatment for mental illnesses usually consists of therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Treatment can be given in person or through a phone or computer (telemental health). It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when looking for mental health care, but there are many ways to find a provider who will meet your needs.

Primary Care Provider: Your primary care practitioner can be an important resource, providing initial mental health screenings and referrals to mental health specialists. If you have an appointment with your primary care provider, consider bringing up your mental health concerns and asking for help.

Federal Resources: Some federal agencies offer resources for identifying health care providers and help in finding low-cost health services. These include:

National Agencies and Advocacy and Professional Organizations: Advocacy and professional organizations can be a good source of information when looking for a mental health professional. They often have information on finding a mental health professional on their website, and some have practitioner locators on their websites. Examples include but are not limited to:

State and County Agencies: The website of your state or county government may have information about health services in your area. You may be able to find this information by visiting their websites and searching for the health services department.

Insurance Companies: If you have health insurance, a representative of your insurance company will know which local providers are covered by your insurance plan. The websites of many health insurance companies have searchable databases that allow you to find a participating practitioner in your area.

University, College, or Medical Schools: Your local college, university, or medical school may offer treatment options. To find these, try searching on the website of local university health centers for their psychiatry, psychology, counseling, or social work departments.

Help for Service Members and Their Families: Current and former service members may face different mental health issues than the general public. For resources for both service members and veterans, please visit:

Deciding if a Provider is Right for You

Once you find a potential provider it can be helpful to prepare a list of questions to help you decide if they are a good fit for you. Examples of questions you might want to ask a potential provider include:

  • What experience do you have treating someone with my issue?
  • How do you usually treat someone with my issue?
  • How long do you expect treatment to last?
  • Do you accept my insurance?
  • What are your fees?

Find more tips for talking with a health care provider about your mental health

Treatment works best when you have a good relationship with your mental health professional. If you aren’t comfortable or are feeling like the treatment is not helping, talk with your provider, or consider finding a different provider or another type of treatment.

Children and adolescents that don't have a mental health professional should consider speaking with a health care provider or another trusted adult.

Do not stop current treatment without talking to your health care provider.

Join a Study

Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions, including mental illnesses. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe.

Although individual participants may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials uncovered years ago.

Be part of tomorrow’s medical breakthroughs. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and if one is right for you.

Learn more about participating in clinical trials

Learn More about Mental Disorders

NIMH offers offers basic information on mental disorders and a range of related topics. Printed publications can be ordered for free and are available in English and Spanish. Order online (haga su pedido por el Internet en español) or call 1-866-615-6464.

Contact Us

For all mental health-related questions, requests for copies of publications, and inquiries concerning NIMH research, policies, and priorities, please reach out to the NIMH Information Resource Center using the contact information provided below:

Telephone
1-866-615-6464 (toll-free)
Available in English and Spanish
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m.­­5:00 p.m. ET

Live Online Chat
Live Help
Available in English and Spanish
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m.­­5:00 p.m. ET

Email Us: nimhinfo@nih.gov
Available in English and Spanish

Please note: NIMH is a research funding agency. We cannot provide medical advice or practitioner referrals. If you need medical advice or a second opinion, please consult your healthcare provider. Resources on this page are provided for informational purposes only. The list is not comprehensive and does not constitute an endorsement by NIMH.

Last Reviewed: November 2022