A friend posted on Facebook recently about how hard it can be to find affordable therapy or psychological care. In addition to the often prohibitive cost of seeing a psychologist, sometimes it is simply hard or impossible to find a local psychologist who specializes in OCD (or whatever mental illness you have).

We have some major problems when it comes to availability of care and cost of care. Many people, like my friend, find it hard to afford to actively take care of their mental health or mental illnesses. People often have debt or other financial obligations. Money is tight. And as a result, a lot of times our mental health care is sacrificed.

But do we have to sacrifice our well being in order to stay afloat financially? 

Don’t get me wrong. I, for one, am a huge advocate of getting proper psychological care if at all possible. I’ve gone to doctors and tried to do it “on my own,” and for some reason, for me, going to the doctor has proven to be the most effective of those two options. But I get it: sometimes it is impossible to go to a psychologist or to see one regularly. So what then?

I’d love to get some feedback here from what has worked for all of you. The following are just ideas that I have, but I’m sure there are more and others that have worked for you– so let me know in the comments!

Alternatives to Therapy to Survive with a Mental Illness

Books

My doctor recommended reading materials when I first started going to therapy/counseling. One was The OCD Workbook  by Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick. There are a lot of OCD books and workbooks out there. This one was helpful to give a background of different types of OCD as well as actual things I could do/write to try and make strides in my treatment on my own. Look for well rated workbooks online for your mental illness or health problem, and try to do your own therapy as much as possible.

More general books are great too. I have often touted Stopping the Noise in Your Head by Reid Wilson for anxiety and OCD. I love this book. Of course, be willing to make your own action plan to put into practice the ideas.

Therapy Apps

I don’t know much about these although I have seen them advertised. Anyone have any good tips or recommendations? Warnings? Best apps?

Groups

If you can find a group in your area, go! I’ve had good success with groups, and usually they are less expensive than an individual therapy session. I’ve historically enjoyed in-person support groups. Go to iocdf.org (and the “find help” section) to find out if there are groups in your area.

We still have our online “Mormons with OCD” chat community as well (and it is free!). If you don’t struggle with OCD but have anxiety instead, feel free to join anyway. Loved ones are also welcome. Click THIS to join.

Friends/family

This one can be iffy. If you know anyone who struggles with similar issues or has a mental illness, you can be a great support to each other. If your family and friends don’t have these challenges, sometimes it is difficult to find support and the kind of encouragement you need. This isn’t to say that there is something wrong with family or friends; it’s just that mental illnesses often need specific types of care and sometimes it can be counterintuitive for friends and family to give that type of love (or stop certain behaviors that reinforce or make the mental illness worse). But if you are open with friends and family and find a kindred spirit, great! This can be super helpful.

Meditation/Mindfulness

I am rubbish with meditation (and will post a link to an article I wrote about that subject sometime soon), but I know that mindfulness and meditation can be helpful for some people with mental illness. Do your research and see if it will work for you.

Online Resources

Check out the various legitimate and trustworthy websites for your condition. Often they will have tips and ideas to help you.

And of course, don’t give up.

Find a combination of treatment plans that work for you. And don’t do nothing. That sounds bad, but the point holds. Do something. Avoid convincing yourself that there are no options and so you just have to wallow in self pity and struggle through each meaningless–or worse–negative and horribly demeaning day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there. I’ve had horrible days where I’ve felt debilitated and depressed and unwilling to keep going. But do something on those days. Anything! Try to take one step forward, even if the rest of the day has you falling backwards down the hill over and over again. The idea is, as you take those small steps forward, you will gradually gain confidence and hope. You will realize that you might not be better all at once or in one day or one month or one year or whatever, but you can improve. You can live. And that’s the goal, really. Life. A better life, day by day.

Please leave your ideas in the comments!

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