If you're feeling elfless, here's help. Photo by Rachel Eve Stein.
If you're feeling elfless, here's help. Photo by Rachel Eve Stein.

This post is for the Brokesters out there who have found themselves talking about their tumultuous childhood to a Trader Joe’s employee, trying to get a diagnosis from a psych major at a house party, or calling a suicide helpline to talk about relationship issues. It is hard to get mental health services when you’re without insurance, and hardest to get help without poppin’ prescribed pills. This post is about finding the elusive drug-less help for your problems in unexpected ways when you have no mental health coverage on insurance, or no insurance at all, and you’re too broke for even the lowest end of the therapist’s sliding fee scale.


Research Studies

I know what you’re thinking: blood tests and mystery drugs and questionable funding sources. However, there are many studies that do not require drugs, and may not necessarily involve traditional therapy. New York University (NYU) psychology graduate students recruit the general public to participate in PAID studies that range from topics such as interactions with new friends to decision making. If you have or may have ADHD, check out available studies at their Adult AHDH Program. Columbia Psychiatry has even more studies. All are free to participate in and only some of them pay. Many do require medication as part of the study. They have a separate Trauma and PTSD Center and Substance Treatment and Research Service (STARS), which both focus on therapy rather than medication.

Support Groups

They’re not just for alcoholics! Check out the weekly Mood Disorders Support Group (MDSG). They also offer a monthly pay-what-you-wish lecture series about mental health topics such as treatment, managing stress and anxiety, and developing better sleep habits. The National Alliance on Mental Health New York City (NAMI-NYC Metro) has monthly support groups that specialize in different disorders and types of support. Yes, Brokesters, there is a Job Talk group!

Actually Affordable Sliding Scales

 Most therapists’ sliding scale fees are ridiculous; $50 a week is not affordable! However, Kings County Hospital Center’s Behavioral Health Center offers therapy on a sliding scale from $15-20 a session. Keep in mind this is all subject to your financial situation, so call 718-245-2727 for more information on required paperwork. The South Beach Psychiatric Center is based out of Staten Island, but they have several locations in Brooklyn. The representative I spoke to said that they do not turn anyone away, meaning that fees start at FREE! If you’re looking for a more intensive program, the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research has a program where you visit a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist four times a week at a sliding scale, after filling out an application ($25 fee, but it could be work it).

Francisco Ramirez

This man gets a category all to himself. Mr. Ramirez is an accredited public health professional (he’s got an MPH) who gives FREE advice on sex, love, and dating to passerby in the parks of our fair city. He’s appeared in segments on MTV and does trainings all over the world, but still finds the time to sit in Union Square and give you twenty minutes of his time. Check out his Twitter feed for location updates.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @RachelEveStein.

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I grew up thinking that therapy was for rich people who didn’t have decent enough friends or family to complain to about their miniscule...

10 COMMENTS

  1. I should add that I can vouch 100% for Francisco’s advice. I was lucky to find him after a particularly awkward date in Union Sq.

  2. I know this may go without saying…but having an MPH in NO WAY qualifies you to provide mental health TREATMENT. Any one can give advice…I’m not saying his advice may not be good. But it’s not treatment for any serious or even moderate mental health issues.

  3. The New School has just opened a low cost psychotherapy program. Treatment is short-term (20 sessions or less). $20.00 per session. Union Square area. 212.229.5700 x 2478.

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