Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Just as we strive for better physical wellness, we can take steps to improve our mental health. This looks different for everyone. Perhaps you’d like to talk to someone, focus more on self care, consider medication, and/or seek other treatments.
No matter your challenges, there are options to help you. Use this guide to find the support that works for you and your loved ones.
Mental health crises can range from risk of suicide to rapid mood swings, abusive behavior, inability to perform daily tasks, paranoia, and/or loss of touch with reality.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please reach out for help.
- Call 911: If there is an immediate risk of endangering oneself or others, contact 911. Inform the operator that you are calling about a mental health crisis.
- Crisis Text Line: Get 24/7 help from the Crisis Text Line . Text PA to 741741 to start the conversation.
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255. [Español: 888-628-9454.]
- PA Crisis Hotlines: Find a crisis line in your county.
Reaching out for help is the right thing to do. You are not alone.
FIND HELP AND TREATMENT
Looking for mental health help? There are several ways to start your search.
Get Connected to Support
- Pennsylvania’s Support & Referral Helpline connects Pennsylvanians with mental and emotional support and to local resources. Call 855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600).
- Call 2-1-1 to reach the United Way and get connected to help in your area. Search crisis services, hotlines, and warmlines near you on the United Way of Pennsylvania website .
Find a Facility/Specialist
- Find the help that works for you. Use Psychology Today’s search engine or SAMHSA’s search tool to find therapists, treatment facilities, health care centers, support groups, and more.
For Medicaid Patients
If you have Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania, you can find an in-network provider by clicking on the Behavioral Health Managed Care Organization (BH-MCO) listed for your county.
You’re Entitled to Treatment
The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance is here to help you if you are having trouble with the mental health benefits covered by your insurance. Call them at 877-881-6388 for assistance.
Don’t Have Health Insurance?
You might qualify for Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid. Unlike many other health insurance options, you can enroll any time. If you do not know if you are eligible, you can still apply.
There are four ways to apply:
- Online: Using the COMPASS website, apply for Medicaid (and other services that can help you make ends meet).
- By telephone: Call 1-866-550-4355.
- In-Person: You can contact your local county assistance office (CAO).
- On Paper: You can download an application below, fill it out, and send it or drop it off to your local county assistance office. Find your county assistance office.
- Application for cash assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance benefits (PDF)
- Solicitud para recibir beneficios (PDF)
For Kids and Teens
CHIP covers all kids and teens with quality health care coverage. Like Medicaid, enrollment is always open. Learn more on the CHIP website.
Know Your Options
Learn about health care options and enrollment availability on the Department of Insurance website.
Please call 911 if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, you are not alone — no matter how much pain you are experiencing.
Remember that emotions aren’t fixed, and how you feel today might not be the same as how you feel tomorrow.
Take these immediate actions suggested by HelpGuide :
- Promise not to do anything right now. Your thoughts do not have to become a reality.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make your home safe by removing things you could use to hurt yourself.
- Don’t keep these thoughts to yourself. Reach out to someone you trust, and/or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Remember that people do get through this. (Want to meet some survivors? Watch their stories here. )
You are valued and there are people who care about you and resources here to help.
Helping A Loved One
Suicide prevention is all of our business. Oftentimes, if a person in crisis gets the professional help they need, they will never be suicidal again.
If someone says they are thinking about suicide, they need professional help. Don’t play it down or ignore the situation.
- Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number, such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
- Encourage the person to seek treatment
- Offer to help the person take steps to get support
- Encourage them to communicate with you
- Never promise to keep suicidal feelings a secret
- Remove potentially dangerous items from the person’s home, if possible
- Talking about suicide/wanting to die
- Looking for a way to die by suicide (such as searching online or buying a gun)
- Talking about feeling worthless
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Suddenly happier and calmer, especially after a period of depression
- Giving away prized possessions
- Getting affairs in order/making arrangements
- Increased alcohol/drug use
- Preoccupation with death
- Depression diagnosis
- Previous suicide attempt
- Family history of suicide
- Loss of job/home/money
- Death/terminal illness of a loved one
- Divorce or loss major relationship
See more warning signs and risk factors for suicide from Prevent Suicide PA.
Worried About someone? Here’s What To Do
- Ask if they are OK, and listen to them like a true friend
- Tell them you are worried about them and they are not alone
- Talk to a mental health professional about your concerns
Not sure who to reach out to for help? You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and text the Crisis Text Line (741741) to talk about your concerns for someone else.
MENTAL HEALTH & CURRENT EVENTS
It’s normal to feel stress around COVID-19. The CDC suggests these tips to help you cope:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news — including on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body:
- Try to eat balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Make time to unwind with activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about how you’re feeling.
Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not an indication of weakness.
Experiencing emotional distress due to COVID-19? Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Find a comprehensive list of COVID-19 mental health information and resources through Mental Health America.
Talking With Kids
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has compiled resources for talking to children about COVID-19. Feel free to explore those resources.
Here are some general tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics :
- Take care of yourself first
- Watch for unusual behavior
- Depressed/irritable moods
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite changes
- Social withdrawal
- Ask what your child already has heard
- Limit TV viewing surrounding COVID-19, especially for younger kids
Black Mental Health
When police brutality against Black Americans is at the forefront of the news cycle, depression and anxiety can cause added stress.
If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Pennsylvania’s Commission on African American Affairs gathered the following resources that can help:
Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma
The Association of Black Psychologists suggests these tips for self care when experiencing racial stress or trauma:
- Self-monitor for signs of stress
- Restore the well that is you
- Take a break from social media and the news
- Fill the depleted well with positive, comforting thoughts and experiences
- Rest and relax
- Be intentionally kind and gentle with yourself and those around you
- Let others replenish the well
- Ask for help
- Seek out comfort and conversation with those who love and understand you
- Stay spiritually grounded with prayer and/or mindfulness
- Remember your body
- Practice relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing)
- Release energy, tension, and strain to the body that comes from carrying stress and trauma
- Walk, exercise, dance, stretch — whatever suits you!
- Remember to breathe deeply
- Stay informed, but monitor how often you’re checking in
- Periodically turn of the news and tune into self-care
- Be intentionally kind and gentle with yourself and those around you
Black Mental Health Alliance
The Black Mental Health Alliance supports the health and well-being of Black people and other vulnerable communities.
Looking for a therapist? Fill out a short questionnaire and someone will follow up with you within 24 hours.
Therapy for Black Girls
This national effort by Dr. Joy presents mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant to Black girls and women.
Find a culturally competent therapist by using the Therapy for Black Girls search tool .
Vietnamese Outpatient Clinic
WES Health System has a specialized outpatient program to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s growing Asian population.
The program provides medication evaluation and consultation, individual and group therapy, and family and couples therapy in a patient’s native language.
The clinic is located at 2514 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Contact the office at 215-599-2845.
RESOURCES FOR EVERYONE
Find the Right Help for You
I’m Experiencing Grief
Coping with loss is overwhelming. It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions.
Any loss can cause grief, including;
- Loss of a loved one
- Divorce or breakup
- Loss of health
- Losing your job
- A miscarriage
- Loss of a pet
- Loved one’s serious illness
- Loss of safety after trauma
- Selling or losing your home
Please go easy on yourself if you are experiencing grief. It is normal to feel grief from even subtle losses in life.
How To Cope
Mental Health America shares these tips for living with grief:
- Seek out caring people. Find friends and family who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
- Express your feelings. Tell others what is going on with you.
- Take care of your health. Eat well, get plenty of rest, and reach out to your family physician.
- Postpone major life changes. You deserve time to adjust to your loss.
- Be patient. There is no timeline for coping with grief. Please be gentle with yourself.
- Seek professional help. If your grief is too much to bear, please reach out for help. Search for a grief therapist near you .
One day the pain will lessen. Until then, if you need extra support, that’s completely normal. Get connected to help and resources in your area through Pennsylvania’s Support and Referral Helpline: 855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600).
I’m Feeling Stressed
We all experience stress from time to time, but if you are feeling more stressed out than usual or your stress won’t go away, you might want to take action to protect your health.
Here are some tips for managing stress from the National Institute of Mental Health :
- Know your body’s response to stress, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased alcohol/substance use
- Being easily angered
- Feeling depressed
- Having low energy
- Talk to your health care provider
- Get regular exercise
- Try a relaxing activity
- Decide what must get done now and what can wait
- Say “No” to tasks that make it feel like you’re taking on too much
- Stay connected with people who can provide emotional support and practical help
If you are feeling overwhelmed, please seek out help. Use Psychology Today’s search engine and/or SAMHSA’s search tool to find therapists, treatment facilities, health care centers, support groups, and more.
I’m Part of the LGBTQ Community
You deserve to feel fully heard and understood when seeking support and resources. There are professionals/organizations that understand the unique experiences that come with being LGBTQ.
- Find the right LGBTQ helpline for you by browsing the United Way of Pennsylvania’s list of service providers .
- The Trevor Support Center offers help around a number of topics, from healthy relationships, to coming out, to homelessness, and more. Connect with them by text by texting START to 678-678.
- Call the LGBT National Hotline at 888-843-4564 for confidential peer support and other resources.
- The Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive. Call the hotline at 877-565-8860.
- Browse transgender self-help resources from the National Center for Transgender Equality.
- If you’re 50 years old and older, call the LGBT National Senior Hotline at 888-234-7243.
Connect With Other LGBTQ Young People
- Meet LGBTQ friends with TrevorSpace . This space is for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24.
- Join a weekly youth chatroom on the LGBT National Help Center website. This chatroom is for young people ages 19 and younger.
If you are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, you are not alone. Help is available.
- The Homeless Assistance Program helps Pennsylvanians avoid homelessness, assists those experiencing homelessness with finding refuge, care, and movement toward self-sufficiency. Connect with your county contact for help with:
- Case management
- Rental assistance
- Bridge housing
- Emergency shelter
- Supportive housing service
- Another option is to call 2-1-1 to reach the United Way or browse their online catalogue of housing resources in Pennsylvania.
The Fairweather Lodge Program provides emotional support, a place to live, and employment for people with serious mental illness.
I’m a Teenager/Young Adult
Your struggles are real and valid, and there is so much help available to you.
Whatever you are going through, you are absolutely not alone. Even though people your age might not be talking about feeling down, experiencing anxiety, or having other mental health struggles, these issues are common and it’s not your fault that you are experiencing them.
If you are having thoughts of suicide or are thinking about harming yourself, please reach out to a trusted adult and/or consider texting the Crisis Text Line: Just text PA to 741741 to get the conversation started.
You deserve to feel mentally well. Here are some common signs that you might want to reach out for help so you can start feeling better:
- Often feel angry or worried
- Have difficulty sleeping or eating
- Lost interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Isolating yourself and avoiding social interactions
- Feeling grief for a long time after a loss or death
- Using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
- Obsessively exercising, dieting, and/or binge eating
- Hurting other people or destroying property
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling like you can’t control your emotions
- Having thoughts of suicide
- Harming yourself (for example: burning or cutting skin)
- Thinking your mind is being controlled or is out of control
- Hearing voices
Helping A Friend
If a friend confides in you that they are considering harming themselves, do not keep it a secret. Reach out to a trusted adult and/or call The Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The best thing you can do for your friend is intervene, and quickly.
- Share your concerns with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate, and understanding.
- Reach out to someone you trust. You don’t need to go at this alone.
- Offer support. Ask questions like:
- How can I best support you right now?
- Can I help you find mental health services and supports?
- Can I help you with stuff you need to get done?
- Would you like me to go with you to your appointments? Do you need a ride?
- Continue being there for your friend. Ways to do that:
- Regularly check-in with them.
- Include them in your plans.
- Learn more about what your friend is going through.
- Avoid judgmental/dismissive language (such as “snap out of it”)
I’ve Experienced Violence
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
If you have experienced violence, it is not your fault. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can begin to feel better.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone Number: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
Phone Number: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- Safe Helpline (for members of the military)
Phone Number: 877-995-5247
Phone Number: 866-331-8453
Text: “LOVEIS” to 866-331-9474
- Disaster Distress Helpline
Phone Number: 800-985-5990
Text: “TalkWithUs” to 66746
Coping With Trauma
Trauma can have long-term effects on mental health. You are not alone.
It is normal to:
- Feel anxious, sad, or angry
- Have trouble concentrating and sleeping
- Continually think about what happened
If these reactions are interfering with daily activities, you may want to seek some help. Some signs from the National Institute of Mental Health that you might need help:
- Worrying a lot or feeling very anxious, sad, or fearful
- Crying often
- Having trouble thinking clearly
- Feeling angry, resentful, or irritable
- Having frightening thoughts or flashbacks
- Having nightmares/difficulty sleeping
- Avoiding places or people that bring back disturbing memories
- Becoming isolated
- Wet the bed after having learned to use the toilet
- Forget how to or be unable to talk
- Act out the scary event during playtime
- Become unusually clingy
In addition to reaching out for help if you need it, try to avoid alcohol and other drugs, spend time with supportive loved ones, and maintain normal routines as much as possible.
If you witness or hear a violent incident, do not ignore it and don’t intervene on your own. Call 911 immediately.
It’s not always easy to identify domestic violence. Here are some warning signs to watch for from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV):
- Name calling/demeaning comments
- Seeming “too good to be true” early in the relationship
- Relationship advances quickly
- Threatens to harm/kill you, your pets, or family members
- Blames you for the abusive behavior
- Prevents you from spending time with loved ones
- Restricts access to financial resources
Worried you might be in an abusive relationship? Take the “Is this abuse?” quiz from PCADV.
If someone comes to you to say they have experienced sexual violence, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. Believe them and remind them that it is not their fault.
Pennsylvania’s rape crisis centers provide 24/7 confidential services for those who have experienced sexual assault. Find your local rape crisis center with this map from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape or call 888-772-7227 for support and services, including:
- Crisis counseling
- Services for family, friends, and partners
- Referrals to other services in your area
- Prevention education programs
Find more resources through the National Sexual Violence Resource Center — located right here in Pennsylvania.
I’m a Service Member/Veteran
Are you a veteran in crisis or are you concerned about a veteran in crisis? Here’s how to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line:
- Chat with someone online
- Call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1
- Send a text to 83825
- Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line online
Here are three common mental health concerns for military members, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Signs you might be struggling with PTSD include: trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Depression symptoms include: Sleep and appetite changes, lack of concentration, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities, hopelessness, guilty thoughts, physical aches and pains, and suicidal thoughts. If you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, then press 1.
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Signs of a traumatic brain injury include: Difficulty thinking, headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, irritability, sleep changes, sadness, difficulty remembering new information, and difficulty concentrating.
If you are struggling with any of these concerns, please seek out help. Find a health care provider in the TriCare network by searching online.
Learn more about common military mental health concerns and how to help a fellow warrior on the NAMI website .
Find more mental health resources for veterans on the federal Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Military Sexual Assault
The Department of Defense’s Safe Helpline is here to help survivors of sexual assault. Use the Safe Helpline website for live chats, reporting retaliation, and more. Get help by phone at 877-995-5247.
I’m Struggling With A Substance
Substance Use Disorder is a disease, and you deserve to get help for your illness.
Signs that you might need help include:
- Lack of control/inability to stay away from a substance
- Decreased socialization
- Ignoring risk factors
- Physical effects, such as withdrawal symptoms
Recovery starts with a call. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for information about treatment resources. Your call is confidential. The hotline is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is available in both English and Spanish.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has a search engine for finding treatment, as well. Search by ZIP code, county, or statewide for programs that could help you.
What to ask treatment providers to determine if they are right for you.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
Find resources and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that works for you.
- Cocaine Anonymous
Find a video or email meeting.
- LifeRing Secular Recovery
Search for meetings and find the support you need.
- Narcotics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous offers multi-lingual and multicultural support. Use the website to find meetings and resources.
- SMART Recovery
There’s life beyond substance use disorder. Find meetings that are free and open to everyone.
- Treating Heroin and Opioid Use Disorder
Pennsylvania’s online guide of resources for those battling opioids
Someone I Love Has Substance Use Disorder
Starting a conversation about getting help isn’t easy. These tips from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are helpful for talking with your loved one about getting treatment:
- Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Consider a role-playing practice with someone else.
- Choose the right time to talk. Your loved one should be sober for this. Avoid having this chat at celebrations and on holidays.
- Try to be calm and supportive. Your loved one’s life may be in chaos right now. You can be a calming influence.
- Don’t gang up on the person. It’s important that they feel supported, not threatened.
- Stick with the facts. A person with substance use disorder has a medical problem. Treatment works, and recovery is possible. Let them know you’re here to help them find a good plan of action.
The National Association of Children of Addiction educates and supports children and family members to lead healthy lives despite being hurt by substance use disorder. The organization teaches the “seven Cs” for helping kids cope with parental substance use:
I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.
I can help take care of myself by communicating my feelings, making healthy choices, and celebrating me.
Alateen has chats for young people, ages 13 to 18, who have been affected by someone else’s substance use. Register for an Alateen Chat .
Whether you’ve just discovered your child’s substance use or you need a new approach, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Parent Helpline is here to help you:
- By text: Text your question to 55753 for a response within 24 hours
- By phone: Call 1-855-378-4373 to speak with a specialist (9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. on weekends)
- By email: Send a message to a helpline specialist
Knowing the facts can help your child get on the road to recovery:
- Substance use changes the brain, which can make drug use compulsive.
- Expecting your child to quit cold turkey is unrealistic.
- Intervening early is better than waiting for “rock bottom.”
- Your child can have mixed feelings about treatment, and it still can be effective.
- Resumed use is common and often occurs before achieving long-term recovery.
- Positive behavior and communication skills are more effective than punishment.
- It’s crucial to find the best treatment for your child’s unique needs.
- Medication-assisted treatment is the gold standard of care for opioid use disorder.
- Using person-first language is proven to reduce stigma and improve treatment.
This crisis toolkit has resources for parents of loved ones with substance use disorder.
Support on Social Media
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) include:
- Being preoccupied with gambling
- Needing increase amounts of money to get the same thrill
- Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
- Call the PA Gambling Addiction 24-hour hotline at 800-426-2537 (800-GAMBLER).
- Search online for a Gambling Addiction Participating Provider.
- Text or chat with Pennsylvania’s 24-hour chatline.
IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH STATEWIDE
Reach Out PA
In January 2020, Governor Wolf announced an initiative called Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters. This initiative is aimed at expanding health care access and ending the stigma that comes with reaching out for help.
Tell the governor’s administration what would help you better your mental health by filling out the Reach Out PA feedback form.
Suicide Prevention Task Force
Governor Wolf started a first-of-its-kind statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force in 2019. The task force is focused on reducing the rate of suicide in Pennsylvania.
If you or someone you love is in crisis or you are considering harming yourself, free help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Training for First Responders
Pennsylvania recently rolled out mental health trainings for fire, emergency, and rescue personnel.
Governor Wolf released a “Trauma-Informed PA” plan to guide Pennsylvania on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing centered. The goal is to break the cycle of trauma by setting people on the path to true healing.
For Commonwealth Employees
Work for the Commonwealth? Mental health resources are available.
The State Employee Assistance Program, also known as SEAP, provides free, 24/7 confidential support. SEAP provides counseling sessions with specialists, legal aid, and financial planning.