Eight ways to seek mental health services if you can't afford it

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It can be hard to seek help for your mental health and even more challenging when you don't have money for treatment. About 56 percent of Americans say they don't seek help because they can't afford it.

But there are ways to get help if money is an issue. NBC News shares eight options to look into if you need somewhere to turn, but don't think you have the money:

1. Seek "in-network" first.

Your health insurance plan may include mental health coverage, either through the plan itself or through an outsourced vendor. If insurance is not an option, check a local social services agency or a community-based health care center that is funded by the government. If you're a student, visit your student health center.

You can also reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Health by texting NAMI to 741741.

Experts tell NBC News you should avoid visiting the emergency room for mental health issues, except in the case of an urgent crisis, to avoid a large bill. Also, emergency rooms are not set up to work with a patient's mental health concerns over a longer period of time.

2. Private therapists will often work as low as $10/hour

Private therapists may be willing to cut their rates by as much as 50 percent to meet the financial capabilities of a patient. Furthermore, some may bring on interns to can visit with patients for as low as $10.

3. See if you're eligible for Medicaid for free therapy

If you don't have insurance, your income may allow you to qualify for Medicaid and select a therapist from within that network. Dr. Jesse Matthews told NBC News a person with Medicaid "should be able to access mental health care free of charge."

4. Local training institutes may provide free sessions for up to two years.

You may have to commit to regular visits over a couple years, but the Psychoanalytic Training Institute could offer free therapy.

"The patient is assured to receive treatment from the same singular qualified M.D. who is getting supervision and advanced specific training in intensive long-term treatment," Dr. Fran Walfish told NBC News.

The nearest one to Indianapolis is in Chicago.

5. University hospitals are often eager to put students to work for a low fee

Walfish said teaching hospitals use interns and residents in their psychiatry and outpatient psychology programs to provide low-fee services on a sliding scale. Some private and state-funded non-profits will also provide low-cost services based your previous year's tax return.

6. Check out the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a non-profit organization that matches middle- and low-income people and families with affordable mental health services and education.

7. Help may be as close as your smartphone

There are a growing number of health systems that are offering tele-services to connect people in need with licensed professionals. Check with your local hospital for information.

8. If you're really hurting, check into a clinic or call for help

If you are in desperate need of immediate mental health services, visit a community mental health clinic, NBC suggests. They will often be able to find low-cost services to help you out.

If you feel in danger of harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline free of charge 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.