Depression Treatment Treatments and Resources to Explore When Therapy Is Unavailable By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice, who has worked for three academic institutions across Canada. Her essay, “Inclusive Reproductive Justice,” was in the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 30, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Akeem Marsh, MD Medically reviewed by Akeem Marsh, MD LinkedIn Twitter Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Tony Anderson / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Barriers to Mental Health Therapy The Further Impact of Oppression Other Mental Health Treatments and Resources Assessing Your Unique Needs For many folx, therapy may be what first comes to mind if you're thinking about the mental health space or are currently struggling with your own mental well-being. While therapy has several benefits, there are also reasons why therapy may be unavailable. For instance, if you're in a crisis, you might need immediate support. It's also possible that you're not currently able to afford therapy or that it's just inaccessible to you in general. In such cases, it can be helpful to consider a variety of resources other than therapy to see which one may work best for you. Barriers to Mental Health Therapy If it's your first time seeking treatment or support for your mental health, engaging in therapy might feel intimidating. A 2015 journal article reviewed the barriers to accessing mental health treatment at the patient, therapist, treatment, organization, and government levels. At the level of the individual patient, some barriers included: Limited access to transportation: For those without a car or other form of transportation, meeting with a therapist can feel nearly impossible.Lack of childcare coverage: For people with children, it can often be difficult to find someone to watch your children during your appointment time.Inability to find a culturally competent therapist: It can often be a challenge to find a therapist who can both understand the challenges unique to your culture and treat your specific mental health concerns. For marginalized folx (Black, Indigenous, or LGBTQ, for example), many mental health issues often stem from or are exacerbated by the effects oppression, discrimination, white supremacy, settler colonialism, anti-Blackness, etc.Stigma and motivation challenges: Sometimes the stigma surrounding mental health treatment can prevent people from seeking help. While these may appear to be relatively surmountable challenges, they may prove particularly overwhelming when also navigating mental health concerns. In a 2017 journal article, mental health-related stigma was considered a barrier in healthcare, with respect to negative attitudes, lack of knowledge and skills, therapeutic pessimism, and stigma in the workplace culture. Because healthcare providers often lacked an adequate understanding of mental health treatment and had not unpacked their stigma, they failed to assess and support the needs of their patients. According to a 2016 systematic review of perceptions of family doctors, some barriers to child and adolescent mental health treatment included resources, appointment uptake, confidentiality limitations, stigma, complexity, limited knowledge, and difficulty relating to young people. With these challenges, it is easy to see why therapy may be hard to access. The Further Impact of Oppression In addition to those barriers to accessing resources, there may be other reasons why certain groups may struggle to find appropriate therapy. According to a 2017 journal article, trans and gender non-conforming folx attempting to access healthcare faced such barriers as financial constraints, service availability, transphobia concerns, and interpersonal challenges, among other concerns. An attempt at accessing services with a therapist who does not think as critically about oppression could leave trans and gender-diverse patients in greater mental health distress than prior to such interaction. A 2016 study found that folx who inject drugs faced significant barriers to accessing appropriate mental health treatment, including long wait times, poor service delivery, rampant stigma, and homelessness. In other words, folx who inject drugs are much less likely to be able to access appropriate mental health therapy services when they need it most. 10 Black Mental Health Influencers You Should Know About Other Mental Health Treatments and Resources It can be beneficial to explore some other ways of accessing mental health support if therapy is unavailable or inaccessible to you. A 2013 journal article suggested some alternatives to mental health therapy for youth: Biofeedback Deep breathing exercises Hypnosis Guided imagery Mindfulness Progressive muscle relaxation Support groups Healthy eating Massage Equine-assisted therapy programs Given that mental health concerns may sometimes be experienced in psychosomatic ways, it makes sense for folx to seek such a variety of treatments. It is clear that even the best mental health therapy will be useless if folx are unable to access it, which is why it is worthwhile to explore other options to meet your needs. Assessing Your Unique Needs When considering how best to meet your mental health needs, it may be helpful to reflect on other resources that have helped you in the past. Listen to Podcasts For instance, if you enjoy podcasts, then that may be a way to learn more about how to manage your mental health effectively when therapy is not available. Some podcasts you might enjoy include Between Sessions, Disability after Dark, and The Homecoming Podcast with Dr. Thema. Read Mental Health-Focused Books If you tend to enjoy reading more than listening to podcasts, then that may be a better source of psychoeducation regarding mental health for you. Depending on your understanding of your mental health needs, a targeted approach may be beneficial. For example, if you have been struggling with depression and anxiety related to body image, you may find it useful to delve into Sonya Renee Taylor's Your Body Is Not An Apology Workbook. Connect With a Community You're Passionate About For some, mental health can be bolstered by a sense of purpose and community with others. While you may feel a sense of purpose by attending a faith-based group regularly, someone else may benefit from organizing abolition advocacy locally. Maybe for you, a sense of community means scheduling more time to chat on the phone with loved ones, while your neighbor may prefer to game online with a team of international players. Given the benefits of physical activity and behavioral activation on mental health, it can be helpful to invest in both. For some, that may look like running multiple times a week in preparation for a marathon or engaging in a dance workout at home. Maybe for you, that means starting off small by taking a walk on a daily basis or trying a new hobby with a weekend class. A Social Support System Is Imperative for Health and Well-Being A Word From Verywell As you explore which mental health resources may be a good fit for your diverse needs, you may come to a better understanding of what treatment may be best for you. Despite how overwhelming it can feel to navigate the process to manage your mental health, such investment can result in long-term benefits even if initial attempts prove to be challenging. 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Harvey A, Gumport N. Evidence-based psychological treatments for mental disorders: Modifiable barriers to access and possible solutions. Behav Res Ther. 2015;68:1-12. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.02.004 Knaak S, Mantler E, Szeto A. Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare. Healthc Manage Forum. 2017;30(2):111-116. doi:10.1177/0840470416679413 O’Brien D, Harvey K, Howse J, Reardon T, Creswell C. Barriers to managing child and adolescent mental health problems: a systematic review of primary care practitioners’ perceptions. Br J Gen Pract. 2016;66(651):e693-e707. doi:10.3399/bjgp16x687061 Puckett J, Cleary P, Rossman K, Mustanski B, Newcomb M. Barriers to gender-affirming care for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. Sex Res Social Policy. 2017;15(1):48-59. doi:10.1007/s13178-017-0295-8 Wang L, Panagiotoglou D, Min J et al. Inability to access health and social services associated with mental health among people who inject drugs in a Canadian setting. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016;168:22-29. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.08.631 Kemper K, Gardiner P, Birdee G. Use of complementary and alternative medical therapies among youth with mental health concerns. Acad Pediatr. 2013;13(6):540-545. doi:10.1016/j.acap.2013.05.001 Ferruolo D. Psychosocial equine program for veterans. Soc Work. 2015;61(1):53-60. doi:10.1093/sw/swv054 By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.