If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help.

My Mental Health: Do I Need Help?

The National Institute for Mental Health suggests answering the following questions to help determine if you may need to seek help for mental health.First, determine how much your symptoms interfere with your daily life.

Do I have mild symptoms that have lasted for less than 2 weeks?

  • Feeling a little down 
  • Feeling down, but still able to do job, schoolwork, or housework 
  • Some trouble sleeping 
  • Feeling down, but still able to take care of yourself or take care of others

If so, here are some self-care activities that can help:

  • Exercising (e.g., aerobics, yoga) 
  • Engaging in social contact (virtual or in person) 
  • Getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule 
  • Eating healthy 
  • Talking to a trusted friend or family member 
  • Practicing meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness

If the symptoms above do not improve or seem to be worsening despite self-care efforts, talk to your health care provider.

Do I have severe symptoms that have lasted 2 weeks or more?

  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Appetite changes that result in unwanted weight changes 
  • Struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of mood 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable 
  • Unable to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities 
  • Thoughts of death or self-harm

Seek professional help:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)—virtual or in person; individual, group, or family 
  • Medications 
  • Brain stimulation therapies

Get Immediate Help in a Crisis

  • Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room. 
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
    Call or text 988; Llame al 988 (para ayuda en español)
    Use Lifeline Chat on the web (English only)
    The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. 
  • Veterans Crisis Line
    Use Veterans Crisis Chat on the web 
    The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans and those who support them, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare. 
  • Disaster Distress Helpline
    Call or text 1-800-985-5990

    The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need. 
  • View the 5 action steps for helping someone in emotional pain infographic to see how you can help those in distress.

Find a Health Care Provider or Treatment

Treatment for mental illnesses usually consists of therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Treatment can be given in person or through a phone or computer (telemental health). It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when looking for mental health care, but there are many ways to find a provider who will meet your needs. 

Primary Care Provider: Your primary care practitioner can be an important resource, providing initial mental health screenings and referrals to mental health specialists. If you have an appointment with your primary care provider, consider bringing up your mental health concerns and asking for help

Federal Resources: Some federal agencies offer resources for identifying health care providers and help in finding low-cost health services. These include: 

National Agencies and Advocacy and Professional Organizations: Advocacy and professional organizations can be a good source of information when looking for a mental health professional. They often have information on finding a mental health professional on their website, and some have practitioner locators on their websites. Examples include but are not limited to: 

State and County Agencies: The website of your state or county government may have information about health services in your area. You may be able to find this information by visiting their websites and searching for the health services department.

Insurance Companies: If you have health insurance, a representative of your insurance company will know which local providers are covered by your insurance plan. The websites of many health insurance companies have searchable databases that allow you to find a participating practitioner in your area. 

University, College, or Medical Schools: Your local college, university, or medical school may offer treatment options. To find these, try searching on the website of local university health centers for their psychiatry, psychology, counseling, or social work departments. 

Help for Service Members and Their Families: Current and former service members may face different mental health issues than the general public. For resources for both service members and veterans, please visit: 

Tips for Talking with  health care provider 

Prepare ahead of your visit. 

Health care providers have a limited time for each appointment, so it may be helpful to think of your questions or concerns beforehand. 

  • Prepare your questions. Make a list of what you want to discuss and any questions or concerns you might have 
  • Prepare a list of your medications. It’s important to tell your health care provider about all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements. 
  • Review your family history. Certain mental illnesses tend to run in families and having a relative with a mental disorder could mean you’re at higher risk. Knowing your family mental health history can help determine your risk for certain disorders. It can also help your health care provider recommend actions for reducing your risk and enable you and your provider to look for early warning signs.

3. Consider bringing a friend or relative.

It can be difficult to absorb all the information your health care provider shares, especially if you are not feeling well. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring a close friend or relative to your appointment. A companion can be there for support, help you take notes, and remember what you and the provider discussed. They also might be able to offer input to your provider about how they think you are doing. Some people like having a friend or family member there throughout an appointment, while others prefer to first meet alone with a health care provider and then have a trusted friend or relative join them when recommendations for treatments are discussed.

4. Be honest.

Your health care provider can help you get better only if you have open and honest communication. It is important to remember that discussions between you and a health care provider are private and cannot be shared with anyone without your expressed permission. Describe all your symptoms to your provider and be specific about when they started, how severe they are, and how often they occur. You should also share any major stressors or recent life changes that could be triggering or exacerbating your symptoms. Symptoms of mental illnesses may include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood 
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism 
  • Irritability 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities 
  • Decreased energy or fatigue 
  • Moving or talking more slowly 
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions 
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping 
  • Appetite or weight changes (or both) 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts 
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

5. Ask questions.

If you have questions or concerns, ask the health care provider for more information about the mental health diagnosis or treatment. If a provider suggests a treatment option that you’re not comfortable or familiar with, express your concerns and ask if there are other options. You may decide to try a combination of treatment approaches and want to consider getting another opinion from a different health care provider. It’s important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. To find one that works best for you, you may need to talk to a few other health care providers to find someone you are comfortable with and try several different treatments or a combination of treatments.

For more information on suicide prevention: