If your loved one doesn’t have insurance…
Yes – it’s possible to receive mental health care without insurance! Start by calling the Maine Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112. Their professional staff can help you find the resources you need. Other resources worth exploring include:
- MaineCare: In Maine, people who qualify may receive MaineCare coverage regardless of age. For more information, go the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website or call DHHS at (207) 287-3707. Applying for MaineCare can be frustrating and confusing for some people. Contact us if you’d like assistance with filling out the application.
- CarePartners: If your loved one lives in Augusta, Belfast, Damariscotta, Portland, Waterville, or a surrounding town, they may qualify for services through CarePartners. To find out if your loved one is eligible, call 1-877-626-1684.
- Free services: Some Maine communities may offer free mental health services. Call the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112 for help in determining if your community offers free services.
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Which type of provider do you need for your loved one or even yourself?
There are many different types of providers in Maine. Here’s a brief explanation of professionals who are qualified to help make a diagnosis and provide effective counseling and/or medication:
- Primary Care Physicians (PCP): Your loved one’s medical doctor has received basic training to recognize psychiatric disorders. This is a good place to begin, especially if your loved one has a relationship with his/her PCP, because the PCP is looking at the overall health picture and medical history.
- Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in evaluating someone for a mental illness, making a diagnosis and treating with appropriate medication.
It’s important for the patient (your loved one) to have regular appointments with the psychiatrist to adjust medications as needed to gain the most benefit. Many psychiatrists do medication checks only and do not provide therapy services. Ask the psychiatrist about this when making an appointment.
- Psychologist: This professional has a doctoral degree in psychology and therefore is trained to diagnose mental illnesses and provide individual and group therapy. Psychologists DO NOT prescribe medication.
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: This professional has an advanced degree and is qualified to diagnose mental illness and prescribe appropriate medication under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist.
- Social Worker/Therapist: This professional designation is also known as an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker); MSW (masters in social work) and LCPC (licensed clinical professional counselor). Under each of these professional designations, the professional has a different amount of schooling. Some are trained to make psychiatric diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy, and other provide counseling only. They DO NOT prescribe medication.
How do you decide which provider is right for your loved one or yourself?
Once you’ve identified a list of providers in your area, it’s OK to ask them for an interview. This is a brief meeting with the provider, your loved one and you (if your loved one is a minor or 18+ and agrees).
You may ask providers to describe their specialties (whether they work with people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or if they specialize in working with adults or children, etc.; their approach to working with patients, their philosophy, etc. Remember that your loved one needs to feel comfortable with his/her therapist and more in control of their own recovery process.
NOTE: There’s often a wait time for the first appointment — sometimes even a few weeks before you or your loved one can be seen. Plus it can be discouraging to reach out for help only to discover the doctor or therapist is not accepting new patients. Keep trying! It may take time, but eventually you’ll find a local provider who can help.
For more information on finding care and support for your loved one, try our Maine Mental Health Resources.