Mental illness is a battle without shortcuts. There’s no timetable for diagnosis, and there’s certainly no template for recovery, or for living day-to-day with your own mental health. No matter where you find yourself in your fight to maintain positive mental wellness, you should know that so many independent online communities exist for a single goal: to pair you with the free mental health resources you need to foster decisive change. Whether you’re taking your first steps toward a healthier mental state or you’ve been on your own mental health journey for years, enjoy tips, healthy habits and mental health encouragement below that you can use right now.
1. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
If you’re looking for immediate help in curbing mental illness, addressing mental health concerns or simply for a listening ear, the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) is an amazing place to start. They have collected a wide variety of mental health resources online for easy reference and use, including hotlines, federal resources and easy reading on some of the biggest mental health concerns of the day. Get the help you need in a matter of minutes, whether that’s a helpful resource or a voice on the other end of your phone. You’ll find mental health resources for teens, mental health tips for parents and portals to help you locate the nearest qualified health professionals in your area.
2. ACT Coach
We believe in the power of self-belief, and so does the ACT Coach mobile application from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Engineered specifically for servicemen and women, but useful for anyone who needs help in coping with potentially traumatic or otherwise troubling elements in their personal lives, ACT Coach, short for “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,” is available for both iPhone and Android platforms. The app does more than help you rid your mind of unpleasant thoughts or emotions; it helps you live through those moments, allowing you to combat insecurities, doubts and anxiety through the power of self-belief, mindfulness and specific training.
The app even allows you to track your progress, any regressions, and day-to-day thoughts and feelings in real time, all from one simple screen. If you’re looking to take control of the same unpleasant emotions that have controlled you, ACT Coach can help you get there.
You’d be amazed at the power that deep breathing can have on any situation. Specifically for the purpose of easing mental health issues, Breathe2Relax offers concrete breathing exercises, tutorials and tips, as well as an avenue to track the success of its own suggested breathing methods. Developed as a mobile application for both iPhone and Android users, Breathe2Relax offers coping therapy on the go, for those moments when you need some on-the-spot mental health relief. Control anger, stabilize any mood and take concrete steps away from stress and toward controlled, positive situational reactions through Breathe2Relax.
It’s in the name: MentalHealth.gov offers resources on all things mental health, all in one consolidated, free, online location. A government-developed resource specifically created for anyone looking to develop and retain tighter command of their mental health, MentalHealth.gov helps you deal with mental health issues like eating disorders, behavioral issues and more. The free online destination for mental health tools also offers you access to OK2TALK, a mental health resource for teens that helps address mental health issues in a way that’s easily understandable by young adult audiences. You can even find mental health resources that are available in your area, all from a single window.
5. Friendship Line
Mental health isn’t just a young man’s issue; it’s a global one, with mental and behavioral difficulties that can affect anyone regardless of age. That’s why the Institute on Aging developed the Friendship Line: to help individuals 60 years old and older find the help they need to fight mental illnesses that contribute to feelings of loss, depression or loneliness.
You can reach the Friendship line toll-free at any time, simply by dialing (800) 971-0016. In addition, this hotline also makes a number of proactive calls each week, to individuals 60+ who have requested ongoing support. Senior individuals are not known for contacting suicide hotlines or utilizing mental health resources at the same rates that younger individuals do. The Friendship Line, through the power of proactive conversation and trained volunteers who specialize in age-specific therapy, helps you take steps to get the help you need after only a single call.
6. Samaritan’s Crisis Hotline
Another free hotline helping anyone address mental health issues in his or her own life, the Samaritans Crisis Hotline is staffed entirely with volunteers and is open 24/7 for anyone wishing to share concerns with a caring individual on the other end of the line. Easily reachable at (212) 673-3000, it’s a crisis hotline set up specifically to help you deal with and overcome thoughts of violence, suicide or other mental health byproducts, to help pair your issues with productive solutions instead of a damaging response.
7. LifeRing Secular Recovery
Sometimes, a virtual meeting just doesn’t cut it when it comes to your mental health issues. If you prefer a face-to-face meeting with someone who cares about mental, behavioral and physical well-being, we encourage you to check out LifeRing Secular Recovery. Though many of their in-person sessions have been cut short or temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak, LifeRing continues to offer mental health resources in the form of local meetings, recovery programs and more.
Conversely, if you’re looking for similar assistance or resources through a virtual format, LifeRing offers that outlet as well. You can also join a LifeRing-sponsored online forum, or even a chat group or email sequence, for personalized mental health attention from the comfort of your own home, workplace or wherever you best digest mental health resources like these.
8. Emotions Anonymous
No matter where you fall emotionally when it comes to dealing with your own mental health issues, Emotions Anonymous is here to help. Offering 12 concrete steps to help you control addictions, self-esteem difficulties, depression, suicidal tendencies, etc., it’s a fantastic online tool made for anyone and everyone struggling with their own mental health.
One of the great things about Emotions Anonymous is the fact that it offers so many available formats for help. If you’re interested in in-person meetings, you can reference a list of in-person sessions online (updated given current COVID-19 restrictions). If you’re in the mood for person-to-person communication without the pressure of an in-person environment, virtual meetings that take place over Skype can help you come to terms with any mental health challenges. And for a more digital form of communication, online chat forums through Emotions Anonymous provide the same benefits with less personal interaction and maximized anonymity.
A resource for every mental health need
With so many available mental health resources, tools and hotlines available, you’re left with a wealth of outlets to help address specific mental health challenges. As always, the hardest part isn’t in locating these resources, but in admitting that you’re ready for the help. We firmly believe that strength is found in admitting that we need each other, not in isolating ourselves and our issues from our neighbors. If you’re struggling through any mental health difficulty, the worst thing you can do is continue to handle your pain alone. Take advantage of one or many of the above resources, to speak with certified specialists and fellow mental health advocates about your challenges and recovery dreams today.