Five Great Volunteering Ideas for Mental Health Professionals
- Host Therapy Circles
- Visit Shelters
- Volunteer Through an Agency
- Have Free Chat Days
- Give Talks
The mental health industry is growing at an exceedingly rapid rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the fact remains that for millions of people the lack of access to mental health care is appallingly real. Health coverage under the Affordable Care Act varies widely from state to state, and some states don’t cover mental health services at all, or provide very limited coverage – leaving huge swaths of people lacking care they desperately need.
One way mental health professionals can help to alleviate this demand is by volunteering some of their time to the community in a variety of ways and utilizing different mediums. Here are five great ways for mental health professionals to volunteer.
Host Therapy Circles
Hosting a therapy circle can take place in a broad array of circumstances and venues. Mental health professionals might host a therapy circle once a week at a local library, for example, or twice a month at a local church or interfaith organization. No matter what venue or outlet the mental health professional chooses, they can make their services and expertise freely available via free therapy circles in order to help fill the gap for people that need support and advice from both a mental health professional and their peers.
Lots of mental health professionals visit homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and drop-in centers. While some just host group therapy sessions, some also volunteer individual thirty-minute or hour-long slots on a one-on-one basis for those lacking access to psychological services to be able to get the help they need. Access to psychological services by homeless citizens is fairly limited, making homeless shelters a place where mental health professionals can help do the most good for the most vulnerable in their communities – particularly for mental health pros who specialize in the treatment of children or adolescents.
Volunteer Through an Agency
Some mental health professionals volunteer through agencies like the Red Cross or other disaster relief agencies. Those agencies might dispatch them anywhere in the country – or even the world – to offer psychological services in the wake of natural or man-made disasters, from earthquakes to the aftermath of plague outbreaks. Survivors of natural disasters nearly always need acute-level psychological treatment after their ordeal, and disaster relief counseling and therapy is yet another highly constructive way to volunteer.
Have Free Chat Days
For mental health professionals wanting to do more in their local communities, they can offer a range of days in which those who are uninsured or cannot afford a co-pay can come in to speak with them. For a great number of people, their insurance coverage may provide a very limited coverage clause for psychological services, or their assigned co-pay for their care may be too much for them to afford. Mental health pros can work to set up a system that allows the neediest access to their care when they need it most.
Giving talks on a variety of subject – like anger management, coping with depression, or improving family dynamics – allows mental health professionals to teach the skills necessary to handle a wide variety of cognitive and emotional issues common in our society. These talks might take place in churches, schools, drop-in centers, libraries, and other publicly-accessible venues where people can come and learn more about dealing with issues closest to home.
Whether therapist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist, each of these methods of volunteering can assist in bridging the gap between care and those lacking access to it – and can provide a wealth of rewarding experiences along the way.