I’ve been fortunate enough to work in mental health care, and it was at a pretty expensive treatment facility. About 99.9% of the people who came through had amazing insurance, but one of the reasons I started my YouTube channel and write articles on Medium is because I know many people are in the situation I was in when I started working on my mental health seven years ago.
Seven years ago, I had no money and no insurance. Treatment or even therapy wasn’t an option for me, and I know many of you are in the same situation. The mental health care system in the United States sucks, and I know many of you who are in other countries struggle with getting adequate care as well.
If you can afford therapy, do it. I’m lucky enough today to be an affiliate of BetterHelp online therapy, and I love my therapist. Before I had access to a therapist, I made a lot of excuses not to help myself, and you may be stuck in that same situation. The reality is that there are quite a few options for working on your mental health even if you can’t afford therapy, and here are a few of them (and they’re great to supplement to therapy as well).
Self-help books have such a bad reputation, and I get it. When most of us hear the word “self-help” we think of some BS guru just telling us to believe in ourselves, but from my experience, those types of people are extremely rare. The reality is that for thousands of years, all we had was self-help. Ancient philosophers were the originals when it came to teaching people self-help, and today, we have access to an endless amount of authors who put their wisdom in books.
If you can’t afford a therapist, don’t worry. Some of the best therapists and psychologists out there have put their wisdom into books. You can get books that give you the same tools you’d get from a therapist. You can find books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and much more. Some of my favorite books are from Dr. Albert Ellis who created Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).
Aside from that, you have incredible authors like Ryan Holiday, Mark Manson and even Russell Brand who are modern-day philosophers who can help you start managing your mental health.
I personally do audiobooks, and my Audible subscription is $15 a month, which comes with one credit for a book each month. I read a ton, so I usually get 3 additional credits at least each month, which are only $35. The average therapy session can run anywhere from $50 — $100 or more per session, but for $50 you can get 4 self-help books a month. Don’t have $50 a month? Get a library card, and stop making excuses not to work on yourself and improving your life.
I don’t have the time in this article to go through all of the scientific research that’s gone into the studies behind human connection when it comes to mental health. Some books I recommend are Lost Connections by Johann Hari and SuperBetter by Dr. Jane Mcgonigal if you want to learn more about it.
Long story short, you need a support group.
As one of the lucky people who was genetically predisposed to addiction, I first found the benefits of support groups in 12-step programs. They’re completely free, and I wouldn’t be alive today without them. When we’re struggling with mental health issues, we feel extremely alone. There’s a lot of power in just knowing that other people understand exactly what we’re going through.
Aside from knowing that we’re not alone, support groups give us hope. We meet people who are living proof that we can get through something. There have been countless times when I’ve been able to draw from the strength and courage of others in various support groups. I’ve met people dealing with the loss of a child or loved one and managed to push through to the other side. I’ve also met people who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses like cancer, but they still suited up and showed up every day to live life to the fullest.
You can’t meet these types of people and live in the delusion that you’re hopeless.
I know many people struggle with social anxiety, but I encourage you to find a local support group anyways. If you don’t have access to them, use the internet to your advantage. There are an endless amount of support groups online for depression, trauma, anxiety, chronic pain and more. You can find these types of groups on Facebook, Reddit and many more places. Find people who understand your struggle and connect with them. You’ll soon see that not only are they helping you, but you will be able to inspire them as well.
I wasted years not meditating. It sounded like such a silly thing to even try. “How the hell is sitting there doing nothing supposed to help me?”, I thought whenever the topic of meditation came up. I’m the type of stubborn person who doesn’t believe anything unless there’s some scientific backing, and I didn’t start meditating until I looked and realized how much research there was on the benefits of meditation for trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, BPD, addiction and more.
If you’re a skeptic, I highly recommend you read Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, and check out his podcast 10% happier as well. Another great book with a lot of scientific evidence is by my former meditation teacher Dr. Judson Brewer, The Craving Mind.
Most cities have meditation centers you can go to, and you’ll also get the benefit of human connection by giving them a try. I also highly recommend yoga if you want to get in shape while also reaping the benefits of meditation. If you can’t afford yoga, check out the YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene.
There are also many apps for meditation that you can download. The most popular ones are Calm and Headspace. Both of these are amazing apps, but they have a monthly subscription fee. They have some free meditations that you can do before paying, but if you’re broke, I recommend finding some other apps. One of my favorite apps is Bhuddify, which is a one-time $5 cost, and they have amazing meditations.
I have had more days than I can count where these apps saved my ass. My anxiety was going full force, and I just close the door to my office or find a secluded area in a parking lot and simply listen to a 5-minute meditation.
I’m not even exaggerating when I say that 5 minutes of meditation has calmed me down in the same way that drugs used to back in my addiction days. The great news is that meditation doesn’t come with the brutal side effect of ruining my life, so it’s pretty awesome.
Each and every day, we wake up with a choice. We’re either going to sit in our misery and not take action, or we’re going to do something for our mental health. Not being able to afford therapy or treatment isn’t an excuse now that you’ve finished this article. I’ve kindly taken that excuse away from you, and now I encourage you to do the work. I promise you that if you do just one thing for your mental health each day, your life will get better.
If you can afford therapy, I highly recommend BetterHelp online therapy. Not only do I use it personally, but if you use this link, you’re also helping to support what I do here.