Treatment Settings

Treatment is not a one size fits all approach. Where you go for mental health treatment depends on your situation and recovery needs. Knowing where to look and what to expect can help reduce confusion and stress.

Mental health care professionals that provide services include psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric or mental health nurses, social workers and counselors. Psychiatrists prescribe and manage medications. Finding a professional who accepts your health insurance can help cover the cost of services, but some psychiatrists and other doctors do not accept insurance.

Private Practice

Individual, family and group therapy sessions are held in a variety of settings, a common one being private practice. A professional in private practice may work out of a variety of places, from an office to her home. Meeting weekly, bi-weekly or monthly with a care provider, can provide a person better understanding of relationships, feelings, behaviors and how to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

Community or County Mental Health Centers

A community or county mental health care center often provides public mental health care services when a referral to a private doctor or therapist is not possible. Centers are operated by local governments to meet the needs of people whose mental health condition seriously impacts their daily functioning. Some of the services a person might receive from a community or county mental health center include outpatient services, medication management, case management services and intensive community treatment services.

Often centers manage contracts with mental health service providers and refer clients for employment, day program services, residential treatment services, therapeutic residential services and supportive residential services.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and peer support specialists work at centers to provide the range of services clients need. Some centers use the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team-based care model to coordinate a client’s care. Services may include psychiatry, case management services and help with employment and substance use issues.

Most of the people getting services from a community or county mental health care center receive Social Security disability benefits and rely on Medicaid to fund their treatment needs.

Mental health centers often have emergency walk-in services or a mobile crisis unit with clinical staff able make an on-site evaluation of a person’s condition. The purpose of both is to deescalate, stabilize the individual and determine the next steps.

Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Some people with mental health conditions also have substance abuse concerns. The most widely used form of treatment is integrated intervention. With this treatment, a person receives care for both a specific mental illness and substance abuse. Types of substances abuse centers include:

  • Detoxification facilities. Withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threating and requires medical supervision. Opiate withdrawal is less risky, but detox can be important to organize community-based efforts to provide sobriety supports.
  • Acute Residential Treatment (ART) programs. ART are short-term, highly focused treatment programs that help individuals solidify their recovery and sobriety.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). IOP allows individuals to work, go to school and carry on their regular activities while also providing services and supports, such as a 12-step program to remain sober.