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Dealing With Mental Illness Without A Therapist

Mental health, as big and important as it is, is still not taken as seriously as it should be. There are not only many different mental illnesses that we are either unaware of or don’t have a full understanding of as a whole, there are also plenty of people in this world who suffer from them yet can’t afford to get the proper help.

It’s World Mental Health Day, and the topic of mental health is even more important than it has ever been before. The need for more therapists and affordable mental health healthcare is also very dire.

As someone who knows that I need to see a therapist but currently can’t afford to do so, I’m aware of how frustrating and hopeless it can be to not receive the help needed. I’m also aware that health is wealth, and without proper mental healthcare, it’s harder to care for yourself in other areas of your life.

Though a professional is necessary and recommended, if you’re unable to afford one at the moment, there are certain things you can do to work on your mental health without a therapist for the time being.

1. Exercise regularly

Exercising allows you to release endorphins, which help to improve your mood and make you feel good. If you’ve watched Legally Blonde then you’re aware of the famous words from Elle Woods “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” She is 100% correct about the effect of endorphins, and though running a few miles isn’t a quick fix (none of these tips are), it still makes for a good release plus you’re taking care of your body.

2. Journal

Journaling allows you to release in a way somewhat similar to talking to a therapist, but you’re writing out your thoughts and feelings instead. Some people find journaling very therapeutic because you’re able to get all of the things out that are in your mind. Because this is your personal journal, you don’t have to worry about how you write or whether anyone understands you. There is no one that will see this unless you choose to do so.

3. Read self-help books

Though the world is very tech-heavy, books are still an important resource to get your hands on. There is an abundance of self-help books that, not only allow you to not feel alone, but they help provide the steps and tips needed to get on the right path. The job of these types of books is directly in the name “self-help”, and are great tools for those who are trying to work through their mental health on their own.

4. Do the shadow work

If you’ve never heard of the term “shadow work”, it basically means that you’re doing the work to develop self-awareness. Shadowing can work along with journaling as there are also specific journals and workbooks for doing just that. Even in therapy, there are therapists who may have you do shadow work in order to help heal past traumas. It’s a great way to analyze why you do or feel the way you do.

5. Use mental health apps

Mental health apps are your best friend while working on your mental health journey. There are an abundance of apps that are specific to your needs, you just have to find the app that fits you. I have an app called Finch that allows me to keep track on my daily goals. It also asks me how I’m feeling every time I log in and provides different techniques for when I’m feeling down or anxious. There’s also a cute bird that you can clothe and personalize that also sends notifications such as “I’m glad you’re here.”, which is very helpful when you’re feeling down.

6. Talk to your support system

Lastly, though you may not have a professional therapist, I highly recommend leaning on that support system if you have one. We often worry about being bothersome and handling everything on our own, but using your resources means using all of your resources. If people are telling you that they’re here for you, allow them to be there during your time of need. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that these are not licensed professionals. They should not be diagnosing you in any way, but providing a listening ear and giving the best advice that they can.

Ultimately, it’s highly recommended and encouraged that you receive professional help if you’re struggling mentally. However, it’s unfortunate that we have a system that doesn’t allow everyone the ability to do so.

If you’re struggling but cannot afford a therapist, I hope that these ways can help you as much as possible until you can receive professional help.


  1. It’s such an awful system to navigate; healthcare requiring insurance/money is a huge barrier for so many people (myself included). Some states, counties and/or municipalities run free clinics so it’s worth anyone in this situation to do a quick online search. They aren’t going to be a replacement for the care needed but they may lead to further free or very low cost care that could be on offer. It’s a shame that so many of us choose to not get the care we need, whether it’s for our physical or mental health. Your tips are really great, and hopefully will help anyone in a similar situation.

    • It really is awful. Healthcare of any sort should be available to everyone. That’s a great idea about the free clinics, but it’s still sad that even that option is only in some areas and not all. I hope that in the future the cost of these things get lower, but considering how money hungry America is, it’s hard to say. I’m glad that there are at least ways, like the ones I provided, to at least help yourself in the best way you can for the moment. Thank you for reading and commenting ♥!

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