Okay, I need help! …now what?

The first step to getting help that you need is… to acknowledge that you need help. In Washington state, minors 13yo and older may request for mental health services without parental consent (RCW 71.34.530).

Or maybe you are the parent, and know that your teen needs professional mental health help (even if the teen isn’t ready to accept that).

But now, what’s the next step? Here are some guidelines on how you can figure out which next steps work best for you (or your teen).

Please note, BYS does not currently have walk-in/same day appointment hours. If you’d like to see one of our counselors, please request an appointment under the “Make an Appointment” link in the upper right of this page.

Are you in an emergency or crisis situation?

If safety is an immediate concern, call 911. The 911 operators are trained to handle mental health emergencies, and can connect you with the available service in the area. You can also go to the nearest hospital emergency room, where the mental health staff can provide a clinical assessment of the situation and help determine if higher level care is needed.

In crisis situations where you need to talk to someone right away, you can also call local or national hotlines that are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • The Crisis Text Line will provide support via text 24/7. You can start the conversations by texting HELLO to 741-741.
  • In Kitsap County (WA), call the Crisis Clinic of the Peninsulas at 360-479-3033 or 1-800-843-4793, or you can contact Kitsap Mental Health Services.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another valuable resource, with information for you or your loved one who needs help.
  • Your Life Your Voice is a website dedicated to helping teens who are struggling. They have a 24/7 hotline (1-800-448-3000) that you can call, and also provide support via text, chat, and email.
  • Some other crisis support sites can be found on this page.

 

Types of mental health professionals:

If the situation isn’t a crisis/emergency, then the next step is to think about what type of help you would like to get. There are many types of mental health professionals who can help you in a variety of ways. (At BYS, Marriage and Family Therapists and Associates, Mental Health Counselors and Associates, and Intern Therapists provide free psychotherapy and counseling. We do not prescribe medication or provide testing/assessments.)

 

Have you seen your family doctor or pediatrician recently?

When was the last time you had a medical check up? Sometimes, depression or anxiety may be a side effect of a physical or medical issue, so a medical check up is helpful to rule out that possibility. In addition, your medical provider may be able to provide you a referral, or suggest the type of mental health treatment that works best with your issues.

 

Considering health insurance coverage:

BYS provides free psychotherapy and counseling for teens and their parents, so you do not need health insurance coverage. You also don’t need to think about health insurance coverage if you are paying out of pocket and not looking for reimbursement. The mental health professional may not take insurance, but may provide you with a receipt that you can submit to your insurance company for some reimbursement, if your plan allows for it. Or you may find someone who is a network provider and can bill directly.

Under the Affordable Care Act, mental and behavioral health services are considered part of the essential health benefits. If you plan to use your health insurance to cover your costs, the best thing to do is to call your insurance company to find out what services are covered, and get a list of mental health professionals in your area that are covered by your insurance.

 

Make a list of potential candidates to contact:

Make a list of potential mental health professionals that you will contact. Sometimes, the person you call first may not take new clients, or may not have an appointment for a month, or may not be available on the days/times that you need. (If you are looking for psychotherapy or counseling, chances are, you will see them regularly in the beginning.) If the appointment is far away or you are offered a wait list, take it, but keep calling others on your list. You can always cancel on your first call if you find another person who can fit you in sooner.

How do you find a mental health professional in your area? If you are local to Bainbridge Island, WA, then you can contact BYS, or look up local providers on the Bainbridge Island Psychotherapy Guild website, where many local providers are registered. You can search for providers by insurance, issues they specialize in, or population (i.e., “adolescents”).

If you aren’t local, you can call your local hospital’s psychiatry unit and ask if they have a referral list for therapists in your area. (Depending on the hospital, they may call the unit “mental health” or “behavioral health” services instead of “psychiatry”.) The hospital may have a clinic of their own that you can go to for outpatient services.

 

Contact potential professionals:

If the idea of calling or contacting a potential provider makes you anxious or reluctant to get help, ask a parent or another trusted adult (teachers, coaches, school nurse, etc.) to help you with calling the professional. (At BYS, we sometimes have teens who come see us to get help, then later come back with a friend who needs help!)

Some professionals may have an appointment system set up so you can do everything on-line or through email. In many cases, you may also talk to them on the phone to schedule your first appointment. If you have a chance to talk with the person on the phone, see how comfortable you feel having a conversation. Finding a therapist who is the right “fit” for you is very important – if you don’t feel like you can trust them, that will get in the way of working on your personal issues.

 If the first person doesn’t work out for your needs, don’t give up hope. Sometimes, it might take a few meetings before you feel comfortable with the provider. In some cases, you may decide after a few sessions that the person isn’t the right fit for you, and choose to see another provider.

 

Other resources on finding help:

Read more information on finding a mental health professional (NAMI website).
Other local (Kitsap County, WA) providers:

Youth Suicide Prevention Program