How to Get Mental Health Financial Assistance in College

Mental health resources can save college students' lives. Learn how you can receive financial aid to access mental health assistance in school.

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by Kristen Grau

Published on June 23, 2022 · Updated on June 24, 2022

Reviewed by Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

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How to Get Mental Health Financial Assistance in College
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Many college students struggle with depression and anxiety. According to the 2021 winter/spring Healthy Minds Study, 41% of student respondents screened positive for major or moderate depression, and 34% screened positive for an anxiety disorder in the past year.

Knowing where and how to get mental health help as a college student is vital. But it's just as important for students to know how to get the financial help they need to access those services.

Mental health financial assistance can come from scholarships, nonprofits, government aid, and more. Your campus likely has its own resources, many of which are free.

Learn more about your options for mental health financial aid and how to get it so you don't miss out on potentially life-saving help.

What Do You Need to Get Student Mental Health Financial Assistance?

You need to be prepared if you want to improve your chances of receiving mental health financial assistance. Regardless of where you're receiving mental health services, the information you need to apply for financial assistance is similar across the board.

One thing you'll often need to secure mental health financial assistance is proof of a mental health condition. This may be a personal care provider's mental health assessment or a diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

In some instances, you may be asked to undergo a specialized evaluation.

You may also be asked to provide proof of insurance or Medicaid enrollment. Insurance may not be required to receive every type of mental health financial assistance, like Social Security Disability Insurance, but you will typically be asked for it.

3 Ways Students Can Get Financial Assistance for Mental Health

Getting mental health resources as a student doesn't always need to come completely from your pocket. In some cases, you can get free resources or financial support from your campus mental health services, the government, or a nonprofit.

1. Campus Mental Health Services

Many colleges offer their own mental health services for students, typically at no cost.

The types of services offered can vary and may include one-on-one counseling, mental health classes and workshops, and support groups. Many of those resources are available virtually as well. The larger your college, the more resources you'll likely have access to.

Full-time students often receive the most financial benefits from their colleges. If you're a part-time student, you'll likely need to turn to other outlets for financial assistance if you use your campus resources.

Schools usually have all their mental health resources consolidated in one center on campus, often called Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS. Contact your school's equivalent to find out what kind of financial assistance you may qualify for.

2. Government Assistance

You may be eligible for both federal and state government mental health financial assistance.

Income is a big factor in determining how much aid you can receive. You may be able to receive assistance for in-person and virtual treatments.

Your local mental health service centers may be Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are centers in typically underserved communities that provide sliding-scale fees. That means your payment is adjusted based on your income and ability to pay.

Social Security and Disability Insurance is another form of assistance. This federal program provides monthly income to adults with mental health conditions to help them pay for necessities like food and rent.

3. Nonprofit Resources

Many national and local mental health nonprofits offer mental health resources to students.

One of the largest national nonprofits is National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI runs chapters across the country, with physical locations that provide counseling, housing, crisis services, and more.

Nonprofits can help you financially by matching you with treatment options that align with your budget. A popular method of nonprofits is to provide you with sliding-scale therapy, which allows your income and financial situation to influence — and often lower — the cost of treatment.

You can also look for nonprofits that specifically target certain mental health needs, such as the National Eating Disorders Association and the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Are Mental Health Services Covered by Insurance?

The Affordable Care Act requires most individual and small group health insurance to cover mental health and substance use disorder services, including rehabilitative and habilitative services.

If you qualify for Medicaid, your plan should provide assistance for some types of mental health services, such as counseling, therapy, and support groups.

Even with insurance, you might still have out-of-pocket expenses. The amount you pay can vary depending on the service you're receiving, the professional you're seeing, and more. Shop around for different mental health services that work best for your needs and your insurance.

Scholarships for Students With Mental Health Conditions

Scholarships are available to students with ongoing mental health conditions and to those who have overcome mental health struggles in the past.

Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship

This scholarship was formed to commemorate Ethel Hayes, a mother who died by suicide. Two awards of $9,975 are available each year.

To apply, you must write a short essay "about how your journey with mental health has impacted your beliefs, relationships, and aspirations."

Deadline: June 14, 2022

Apply for Scholarship

Shawn's Mental Health Resources Scholarship

This scholarship awards $2,000 to one student. Its purpose is to support a student's mental health by alleviating the cost of college. Your application must include your favorite tips or resources that help improve your mental health.

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Apply for Scholarship

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship

This $1,000 scholarship targets students with all types of disabilities, including mental health conditions. You need a formal disability diagnosis to qualify. You'll also need to submit an essay explaining how you overcame adversity from your disability and what you learned from it.

Deadline: October 1, 2022

Apply for Scholarship

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