5 Ways to Find Mental Health Help if You’re Unemployed

The stress of unemployment can take a toll on your mental health, but there are resources that can help.

February 11, 2010

A survery shows that people who are unemployed are twice as likely to be concerned about their mental health.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Losing a job can knock you for a loop in many ways—the loss of income, the loss of structure in your day, the blow to your self-esteem. And for increasing numbers of Americans, it also means a struggle with mental health issues.


THE DETAILS: Mental Health America, which calls itself the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives, released a survey last October that underscored the connection between job loss and mental health:

• Unemployed people are four times more likely than others to report symptoms consistent with mental illness.
• Some 13 percent of unemployed people say they have thoughts of harming themselves.
• The unemployed are twice as likely as others to be concerned about their mental health, or their use of alcohol or drugs.
• Many have not spoken with a health professional about their concerns, and of those, 42 percent say it’s because of the cost or a lack of insurance.

Read on to see suggestions for finding mental health help.

WHAT IT MEANS: Being unemployed can take a toll on one's mental health, even as it makes it more difficult to afford care or treatment. If you’re unemployed but insured—either through a COBRA plan or a new policy you’ve bought for yourself—there’s a good chance that the insurance company will cover at least some of the bill for mental health care.

If you’re not insured, here are some options for addressing mental health issues:

• Community mental health centers. They’re all across the country. Best way to find one? Call the county-government health department where you live. Some centers will treat you for a low cost or for free if you are uninsured with very low income.

• University hospitals sometimes offer help. Also check with psychology and psychiatry departments of local colleges and universities.

• Advocacy agencies can help you find help. You can find them online and in the phone book. Start by looking for local chapters of Mental Health America, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, or Faces and Voices of Recovery.

• Ask for references. Talk to your doctor, your spiritual advisor, or trusted relatives and friends to see if they know of a low-cost program.

• Call the department of mental healthfor the state where you live, and ask about programs, clinics, and other low-cost or no-cost resources for mental health.

To help minimize the impact of unemployment on your mood, see our story on keeping your spirits up if you've been downsized.