The pandemic has put strains on both community mental health and the availability of mental healthcare resources. Local providers acknowledge increased demand, which can manifest itself in increased wait times and other barriers to care. 

Because finding help might be more difficult than pre-pandemic, PublicSource has gathered resources to help residents connect to providers and community groups and learn more about getting connected to available services.  

Not sure where to start?

If you’re feeling unsure if therapy is right for you, you can take an anonymous mental health screening online from MindWise Innovations. This can help determine if your current thoughts and feelings may be associated with a common mental health concern. If you decide to seek further help, there are many ways to go about that.

Finding a therapist can be a daunting task, and finding one that is right for you may not happen right away. Psychology Today is a low-stress and user-friendly way to start your search. The website allows you to input your ZIP code to generate a local list of therapists and other mental health providers.

Allegheny County has compiled a list of resources for residents. These are resources for non-emergency services for those over the age of 18. The University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry has put together a similar list of providers, including mental health drop-in centers for people in more urgent need. Do you need urgent help?
National suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Crisis text line: 741-741

Network of Care is a national portal where you can input your ZIP code and the type of service you are looking for to find details on local behavioral health services and other information on mental health.

Will my insurance cover mental health services?

Cost of care is a prevalent concern when looking for a new provider. It’s important to find a service that you can afford, but cost shouldn’t limit the services that you have access to or the quality of care that you receive. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act requires that coverage of mental health services by insurance be comparable to physical health coverage. 

The American Psychological Association has helpful information on navigating your insurance coverage by guiding you through what your insurance is responsible for under the parity law. The law generally applies to ​​employer-sponsored health coverage for companies with 50 or more employees, coverage purchased through health insurance exchanges that were created under the Affordable Care Act, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and most Medicaid programs. It is important to note that a health plan is allowed to exclude certain diagnoses based on what they consider to be a physical health problem versus a behavioral/mental health problem. 

If you have health insurance, you should be able to find information on coverage in your plan itself or on the insurer’s website. If you aren’t sure, ask your human resources representative or contact your insurance provider directly. 

Don’t have insurance? You may qualify for Medical Assistance, for which you can enroll at any time. You can apply online, in person, by telephone or on paper. More information on applying is available from the state

What kind of services are right for you?

If you are looking for help with a specific issue like substance abuse, grief counselling, or you are looking to help a loved one, you may want more specialized help. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has collected various resources on its website that are issue-specific if you already have an idea of what you need. 

Studies show that patients who feel more aligned with their therapist benefit from treatment more so than those who do not feel aligned. This does not necessarily mean that treatment with someone who is of a different race or sexual orientation will not be helpful, only that patients often benefit more if their practitioner has an authentic understanding of their client’s experience. 

Black Americans are more likely to experience poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent services. Seeing a therapist with historic and cultural fluency can lead to a better understanding of the full scope of a patient’s situation. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has put together a guide to mental health services for Black residents in Allegheny County, and there are also community health resources like Bridges to Health that are built to help underserved communities in the Pittsburgh area. 

What community-based groups can I connect to?

Active Minds

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults. The peer-based organization has local chapters at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne, and has a goal of educating students on mental health issues and reducing the stigma of seeking help. Active Minds members work to educate students on mental health issues, reduce stigma and can help connect you to resources. Find out if your campus has an Active Minds chapter. If it doesn’t, here’s how to start one.

Steel Smiling

Steel Smiling is a community group in Allegheny County with the goal of bridging the gap between Black people and mental health support through education, advocacy and awareness. They provide a variety of programs to begin conversations and train community members in how to best implement these practices. 

Forward Allies

Forward Allies for Equity in Mental and Reproductive Health is a nonprofit that provides support to birthing people and trains providers in reproductive health. They use money from donations to cover necessary costs for their trainees like therapy, transportation, and childcare.

Visible Hands Collaborative

Visible Hands Collaborative is an organization that provides certified training in Integrative Community Therapy (ICT), a large-group therapy that facilitates community conversation and builds emotional solidarity. Their goal is to bring communities together to unleash the capacity for emotional healing by strengthening these connections.

Are you a student looking for help?

Colleges and universities in Pittsburgh offer counseling and referrals to other therapists and resources. Here are a few examples. 

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh counseling center can be reached by phone at 412-648-7930 or you can visit its website. They offer services, both online and in person, including individual and group counseling. After a certain number of individual sessions, the university will help you find another counselor off-campus and covered by your insurance.

Need urgent help? Call the university police emergency number: (412) 624-2121

Carnegie Mellon University

Students at Carnegie Mellon University are eligible for services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) at no additional cost. Individual counseling as well as group therapy are offered, along with the outreach program COPE. Services are also available for  faculty and staff.

Need urgent help? Call the university police emergency number: (412) 268-2323

Duquesne University

Confidential short-term personal psychotherapy is offered for all students enrolled at Duquesne University. Therapy groups and workshops are available upon request. Duquesne also offers Wellbeing Resources, both in person or online, for issues that students may have but not feel the need to seek counseling.

Need urgent help? Call the university police emergency number: 412-396-2677

Carlow University

Carlow offers weekly telehealth sessions that meet as a group. These sessions are confidential within those groups and will not be revealed to those outside of the session. If you are a Carlow student seeking individual care, long term or short term, the university recommends these services

Need urgent help? Call the university police emergency number: (412) 578-6007

Elizabeth Prall is a PublicSource editorial and engagement intern. She can be reached at elizabeth@publicsource.org.

This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.

It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?

Elizabeth Prall is a PublicSource editorial and engagement intern. She is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in creative writing and public and professional writing. With a unique...