How to Get Low-Cost (and Free) Mental Health Services in Philadelphia

Mental health in the U.S. is worsening and barriers to care abound. But help is out there—here’s where to find it in Philly

How to Get Low-Cost (and Free) Mental Health Services in Philadelphia

Mental health in the U.S. is worsening and barriers to care abound. But help is out there—here’s where to find it in Philly

America is facing a mental health crisis: The latest reports show that youth mental health is worsening, mental illness and suicidal ideation among adults is increasing, and the percentage of adults with a mental illness who are uninsured has increased. On top of that, there’s still an alarming shortage of mental health care providers, and numerous barriers to accessing the ones that do exist—from insurers failing to cover the cost of often-expensive therapy, to long waits to see a provider, to the stigmatization of mental health care among many communities.

And in Philly, where violence, crime, the opioid epidemic, and systemic racism continue to plague our city, it’s no wonder that so many of us are feeling anxious, depressed, burnt out, and just plain down. Off. Not quite like ourselves.

Broke in Philly logoOf course, there is some progress being made: Penn Medicine, for example, introduced a groundbreaking, data-backed program that puts primary care physicians in a position to fast-track patients to mental health care, with behavioral specialists serving as a go-between for patients, psychiatrists, and primary care providers. And other movements are afoot here to destigmatize mental healthcare in Black communities, and among young adults, new mothers, caregivers, veterans, and other oft-overlooked groups.

If you’re facing barriers to getting the care you need, take heart: These city, state, academic, and local nonprofits are just some of the many local resources offering free and low-cost support for mental health care. There are also additional resources available from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Health and Behavioral Services, listed here and here. (And if you know of other free or low-cost resources, please contact us at [email protected].)

Remember: Help is out there, and you are never alone.

Note: If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 any time of day, any day of the week.

City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services

The 24-hour Mental Health Delegate Line provides a variety of services including consultations, referrals, deployment of crisis specialists, and short-term mental health residencies. For more information on the services offered click here.

Cost: Free. Contact them at (215) 685-6440.

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Black Men Heal

Founded in 2018 by Tasnim Sulaiman, the nonprofit aims to remove the stigma attached to mental health care for men of color, connect providers with clients, and eliminate the cost of quality therapy. BMH provides eight free, in-person therapy sessions to men of color; they’ve provided about 600 free therapy sessions to date, and aim to do more.

Cost: The first eight sessions are free; after that, providers will accept insurance and/or offer reduced rates for those who lack insurance. Apply for their services here.

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Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line is a national 24/7 texting hotline staffed by trained volunteers that offers mental health support for any emotional crisis. Conversations typically last 15 to 45 minutes and sometimes include referrals.

Cost: Free. U.S users can contact them by texting the word HOME to 741741 or messaging them through Facebook.

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Drexel Psychological Services Center

Drexel University offers individual and group counseling through its professionals and doctoral students to any Philadelphian, Drexel affiliation or not.

Cost: Services cost $15 per hour if you make less than $30,000 per year, and go up to $50 per hour for income of $120,000 and up.

Healthy Minds Philly

Healthy Minds is an online resource from the City’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services that offers a range of free tools and resources, including: mental health counseling, online screening for mental illnesses and mental health First Aid training for Philadelphians.

Cost: Free.Visit their webpage to get help or call at (888) 545-2600.

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Hispanic Community Counseling Services

The Latino-operated Hispanic Community Counseling Services offers high-quality mental health, substance abuse and educational services, and does not turn away undocumented patients.

Cost: Sliding scale. Contact the 3156 Kensington Avenue location at (215) 291-8151, or the 3221 Kensington Avenue location at (215) 425-6900.

Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia

JFCS provides counseling for adults, teens and children. The nonprofit also hosts workshops about substance abuse, violence, and cyberbullying, and even has a “friendly callers line,” operated by volunteers on Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, for anyone who is feeling lonely or isolated, at (267) 256-2075

Cost: JFCS offers a sliding scale and Financial Assistance Program. Use this form to apply.

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LiveWell Foundation

LiveWell is a volunteer-led non-profit that strives to provide Philadelphians with resources and support for depression through free, peer-led support groups, currently being held online via Zoom.

Cost: Free. You can access their services through the Zoom links given on their website.

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Mango Tree Counseling and Consulting

Mango Tree LLC is a mental health resource center based out of William Way Community Center. Its focus is on counseling Asians and Asian Americans. Services include couples therapy, wellness seminars and group therapy

Cost: Sliding Scale. $60 to $90 per week. Contact them for a free phone consultation at (267) 204-2706.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The national suicide prevention lifeline is a hotline staffed by a network of crisis centers that provide free, confidential, 24/7 support to people suffering from suicidal or emotional distress. They offer specialized online resources on their website and services in Spanish and for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Cost: Free. Contact them at 988.

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Pennsylvania 24/7 COVID-19 Helpline Referral and Support

Since April 2, 2020, the Helpline has provided counseling and referrals to community resources for Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other distress related to the pandemic.

Cost: Free. Contact them at 1 (855) 284-2494 and at (724) 631-5600 for TTY.

Philly National Alliance on Mental Health Warmline

Philadelphia’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national organization, provides support groups (including specialized groups) and educational courses for those suffering from mental illness. Their members also work to advocate for policy supporting better care for mental illness. All services are currently being conducted over Zoom. NAMI is unique in that all of their programs are facilitated by individuals living with mental illness or their family members.

Cost: Free. Contact them at (267) 687-4381 or [email protected].

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The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic

Based at the University of Pennsylvania, the Military Family Clinic provides high quality mental health care for veterans and military members at no cost and with no long waits.

Cost: Free for veterans and military members. Details here.

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline

SAMHSA’s helpline is a 24/7, 365 days-a-year treatment and referral services that connects callers to treatment options near them for substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. Hotline services are offered in English and Spanish.

Cost: Free. Contact them at 1 (800) 662-4357.

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Uplift Center For Grieving Children’s Philly Hope Line

Philly Hope Line provides students from public, private, or charter schools and caregivers with a hotline designed to act as solace for the emotional toll of living through a pandemic. The hotline is staffed by master’s-level clinicians and is sponsored by the School District of Philadelphia and the Uplift Center for Grieving Children. They offer service hours with Spanish speaking, queer and trans clinicians.

Cost: Free. Contact them at 1 (833) 745-4673.

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Unity Recovery

A nonprofit devoted to providing community-based recovery services to educate and assist Philadelphians struggling with addiction, Unity’s services include recovery coaching done by peers and group-based recovery support meetings. They also provide free assistance to Philadelphians in finding the right resources for accessing social services.

Cost: Free. Fill out this form to get started. Contact their recovery text line at 1 (267) 578-3215

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William Way Community Center

William Way, which for decades has provided outreach and support to Philly’s LGBTQIA+ community, offers peer counseling sessions—short-term and goal-oriented conversations in which they provide referrals if they find it appropriate. Each counselor works the same evening each week so Philadelphians should pick a night that works well with their schedule.

Cost: Free. Contact them at (267) 416-0451. They recommend calling before 8 pm for an adequate talk time.

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WOAR: Philadelphia’s Center Against Sexual Violence

WOAR, the nonprofit that provides support and referrals to victims of sexual assault offers individual and group therapy, often incorporating dance, music and yoga to help survivors process their emotions. They also have a 24-hour crisis hotline at (215) 985-3333 and an online chat feature that you can access here.

Cost: Free

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The Citizen is one of 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic mobility. Follow the project on Twitter @BrokeInPhilly.


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