Individuals who feel a need for counseling or other mental health service can get help from the public mental health system in several ways. First, you can call a community mental health agency in your area directly to arrange for an appointment. Many mental health agencies are listed in the telephone Yellow Pages under Mental Health Services, or you could call your local County Mental Health Administrator's Office to locate an agency near you. The Division funds about 120 private, not-for-profit community agencies to provide a full range of mental health services (click here to see samples of the types of service available; click here for a directory of services). You will not be denied services if you are unable to pay for service at these State supported agencies - each of these agencies has a sliding fee scale based on your ability to pay.
Sometimes an individual is in emotional crisis and cannot wait for a regular appointment to receive services. To provide services in such situations, Screening/Crisis Centers were established in each County. Emergency services are provided 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, and are typically located in General Hospitals. An individual may walk in without an appointment, or the individual may be brought to the screening center by a parent, friend, spouse, police, mental health worker, or any other concerned individual. If the person in crisis is unable or unwilling to come to the center, a mobile outreach team can be sent to the person. Click here for the address and hotline telephone number of the Screening/Crisis Center nearest you.
In most situations, the screening centers will stabilize or calm the individual and refer him or her to a community mental health agency for follow-up, in order to help the individual to resolve the causes of the problems.
However, there are some situations in which the individual cannot be stabilized, and is a danger either to himself or to others. In such a situation, the individual may be referred for inpatient hospitalization. The screening center may refer the person to a State or County Hospital or to an inpatient bed located in a general hospital closer to the individual's residence. The goal of inpatient treatment is to stabilize the individual, and to link the individual with needed community support services so that they can return to the community.
Also, please note that on April 13, 2007, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced the creation of a new, mental health helpline for veterans returning from service in Southwest Asia. Please click here to visit the website.