Your (Unofficial) Guide to State-Sponsored Therapy in Indiana
There’s a way to get affordable mental health care that you might not know about. That’s Indiana’s mental health system.
If you qualify, you can get mental health care at a community mental health center for a small co-pay or a low sliding-scale fee. But even if you don’t qualify for services at a state-funded provider, Indiana’s system can still give you information, referrals to affordable providers, and other essential help for free.
If you’re in a hurry and want to get the most important information about what’s available in the Indiana mental health system and who it’s for, you can read our quick start guide below.
To learn more about public mental health services in Indiana, keep reading. We’ve done the research to uncover essential facts about who’s eligible, what services you can get, when to go, where to call, and how it works so you can decide if Indiana’s mental health system might be right for you.
Who Is Eligible?
You should consider looking into the Indiana mental health system if you (or a loved one) are having a mental health crisis, have a severe mental health condition, have Medicaid, or have a limited income.
Everyone in Indiana can use the state-funded mental health emergency response system. If you or someone you love is in crisis, you can call a state or local crisis line to get the help you need, quickly.
Use the State System When You're in Crisis
Public mental health services are usually the best option if you’re having a mental health crisis and need help right away.
State mental health programs are required to provide mental health crisis response services and are one of the fastest ways to get care when you’re having a mental health emergency.
The people who answer state and local crisis lines can provide caring attention and support as they help you determine the best response to a crisis, whether it’s inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.
Even if you’re not in crisis, you can call your local mental health hotline for information about affordable mental health services in your area. When you call, you can find out whether you might qualify for state-funded mental health services, schedule an assessment, or get free information about other affordable local providers.
You can get publicly-funded outpatient mental health care in Indiana at regional programs called community mental health centers (CMHCs). In general, all you need to be eligible for services at a CMHC is a mental health condition that is affecting your daily life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be severe as long as it is having an impact.
Whether you can get the services you’re looking for at a CMHC depends on your local program’s staffing and funding at the time, however. Indiana doesn’t have strict statewide eligibility criteria for public mental health services, but it does prioritize admission for people with serious mental illness (SMI) and limited means. So, some programs may restrict admission when resources are low and demand is high.
Indiana also provides most of its financial assistance for state-funded mental health services through Medicaid, so if you’re not eligible for Medicaid, you may have to pay the full fee at an Indiana CMHC.
Check If You're Eligible for Medicaid
Medicaid is a great way to access the public mental health system in Indiana. Not only do all CMHCs accept it, but you can also use it to get services at other providers.
Indiana accepted federal Medicaid expansion in 2015, so you’re eligible for Medicaid if your income is 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less. You may also qualify based on a combination of your income, your medical history, and your mental health condition.
If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible, it’s worth looking into. You can apply for Medicaid in person, by phone, or online. To learn more, you can go to a Division of Family Resources office or fill out an online application on the Indiana Medicaid page or Healthcare.gov.
Indiana ties most its public mental health funding to Medicaid. Most community mental health programs in the state encourage people who need financial assistance to apply for Medicaid or Presumptive Eligibility, which is temporary Medicaid coverage under the Healthy Indiana Plan.
There is no dedicated program for people who lack insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid, and a significant amount of the state’s general fund that’s dedicated to mental health funding goes toward the state’s psychiatric hospitals.
The downside of this is that there are limited ways to get funding assistance for mental health services in Indiana. The upside is that most CMHCs don’t have strict eligibility requirements for admission, so you don’t necessarily have to have a severe mental illness to go to one. (Note, however, that some CMHCs restrict their services more than others, and you get priority admission if you have SMI.)
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you will be expected to pay out of pocket for services unless you have a private insurance plan the program accepts. Most CMHCs accept a range of public and commercial insurance plans and offer sliding-scale fee options to people without insurance.
One way that Indiana helps people with mental health conditions who don’t already have Medicaid is by making it easier for them to get Medicaid through Behavioral and Primary Healthcare Coordination.
Behavioral and Primary Healthcare Coordination
All community mental health programs in Indiana that are certified by the state mental health department accept Medicaid. It’s the main way Indiana funds its system, and it can be hard to get financial aid if you don’t meet Medicaid eligibility criteria. There’s a program that can help, however.
Behavioral and Primary Healthcare Coordination (BPHC) helps people with serious mental health conditions qualify for Medicaid. Since 2014, you can enroll in BPHC and get mental health services at any provider who accepts Medicaid if you:
- Are 19 years old or older
- Do not live in an institutional setting
- Have income below 300 percent of the federal poverty level
- Are diagnosed with a BPHC-eligible primary mental health diagnosis
- Have health needs requiring behavioral and medical care coordination
- Meet criteria recommending intensive community-based mental health care
- Need help managing your physical and behavioral health and healthcare needs
While these criteria are still somewhat restrictive, they make it possible to qualify for Medicaid if your income level would otherwise disqualify you.
Whether you want to go to a CMHC for basic outpatient services like therapy and medication will depend on what’s available where you live and how your local CMHC’s rates compare to other local providers’ rates. It will also depend on whether there’s a waiting list.
Many Indiana CMHCs are in locations where it can be hard to find other mental health providers. You may want to consider reaching out to one if it’s significantly closer to you than other programs, if the prices are better, and if you can get into services faster or just as quickly. You may prefer to go elsewhere if other providers are closer or have better rates.
However, if your symptoms are severe or you’ve recently been unemployed or homeless because of your mental health condition, you should definitely reach out to your local CMHC. Their specialized programs are designed to help you address these challenges and get the support you need to regain stability while living at home in your local community.
Check Out the State System If You Need Specialized Services
Community mental health centers in Indiana are great places to find specialized and intensive mental health services like case management and day treatment that can be hard to find anywhere else. These specialty programs can give you extra help when you’re dealing with severe symptoms.
You can call your local CMHC to learn more about the services they offer and whether you might be eligible. You can find the numbers for CMHCs and statewide helplines and hotlines in the next two sections of this article.
Even if you’re not eligible for services at a CMHC, they have a waitlist, or they don’t offer the service you want, it’s probably still worth it to call. The people who work at CMHCs are knowledgeable about local resources and will often give you free information or even referrals to other affordable providers nearby, including non-profits that provide free or low-cost counseling.
Where Do You Call to Get Started?
The easiest way to learn more about state mental health services in Indiana is to call your local program directly. You can find contact information for all Indiana CMHCs, as well as the numbers for local crisis lines, in the directory in the next section.
There are also many numbers you can call for help no matter where you are in Indiana. You can find the numbers for statewide helplines and hotlines in the information box directly below.
Important Numbers in Indiana
Public mental health services in Indiana are managed on the state level by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction within the Family and Social Services Administration. For general information about Indiana’s system, you can call DMHA’s Consumer Service Line at (800) 901-1133.
However, you’ll probably get the best results by calling your local program directly. You can find the number for your CMHC, as well as local hotlines and helplines, in the directory below.
Indiana CMHC Directory
Public outpatient mental health services in Indiana are provided by community mental health centers. Some were among the first community mental health programs in the state and have been around for decades. They specialize in both outpatient and intensive community-based mental health services.
There are 92 counties in Indiana and 24 community mental health centers that serve those counties. Each CMHC has a main phone number you can call to get information about mental health services as well as a crisis line you can call to get help in a crisis.
You can find the website and contact numbers for all Indiana CMHCs, as well as the numbers for local crisis lines, in the directory below.
If you need information after hours or aren’t sure whether you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it’s okay to call a crisis line for help. The staff who answer are trained to quickly figure out what you need and can tell you what steps you need to take to connect with the right services.
Also Consider: Federally Qualified Health Centers
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another great way to get affordable publicly-funded mental health services in Indiana.
These federally-funded programs provide cutting-edge care in places where good primary healthcare was once hard to find. Most provide integrated care so you can get primary medical and mental health services at the same location. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers low sliding-scale fees if you don’t have insurance.
You can search for FQHCs near you by using the online search tool on the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration website.
The state mental health system is complicated and can be confusing to navigate. If you’re having any issues, we’re here to help. Here are some of our solutions to common problems you might experience.
If you’ve run into a problem that we haven’t addressed, don’t give up. Call someone at the program (or a state or local mental health hotline) and tell them what’s going on.
You’re much more likely to get the help you need when you advocate for yourself and are persistent. Tell the person you talk to what you need or what problem you’re having.
If they don’t help the first time, call them back and tell them. If you keep calling and keep calm and focused, you should eventually get through to someone who can help you.
Deep Dive: How Does the System Work?
To understand Indiana’s mental health system, it helps to understand how it started and how it’s changed since then.
Public mental health services have been around for a surprisingly long time. But for over a hundred years in America, the only way to get them was in a psychiatric hospital.
In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about mental health care. Conditions in psychiatric hospitals were getting worse and new medications made it possible to provide mental health treatment on an outpatient basis.
In response, new laws were passed that required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. The most important was the Community Mental Health Act, which President John F. Kennedy signed into law in 1963.
For More Information
To learn more about what the public mental health system was like in the early days—and how psychiatric inpatient care has evolved since then—you can read our article “Do Insane Asylums Still Exist? The Surprising Past and Present.”
To learn more about what inpatient mental health treatment is like now, and the differences between how it works in general hospitals and specialized psychiatric facilities, you can read our article “How Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Works.”
Many state mental health programs trace their origins back to the 1960s when these important changes started to happen. Indiana is no exception.
After the federal Community Mental Health Act was passed, the Indiana Department of Mental Health began collaborating with local communities to plan and build community mental health centers. The first Indiana CMHC opened in 1969. The state passed its own community mental health law in 1971.
Following changes in federal laws governing how state mental health programs were funded, Indiana changed its program in the 1990s to be more closely tied to Medicaid and to focus more on people with serious mental illness. However, it retained its system of having non-profit agencies deliver services under the governance of the state mental health department.
What Is the Structure of the Indiana Mental Health System?
The Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) does not directly provide services but is closely involved with programs that do.
In addition to operating Indiana’s six state psychiatric hospitals, DMHA certifies community mental health centers and distributes state and federal mental health funds to them.
DMHA does not have regional or county offices or directly run any outpatient mental health services. Instead, crisis care, case management, counseling, and other outpatient services are all provided by the independent non-profit programs serving a particular county.
For this reason, there is some variation from county to county in how services are delivered and what payment assistance is offered, if any.
The Indiana mental health system has faced increasing issues with funding and access to care in the last few decades. In response, the Indiana mental health department has stepped up efforts to improve and expand the state mental health system.
Thanks to statewide initiatives, many integrated behavioral health and primary care clinics have opened across the state in the last decade. These have helped expand access to care by going beyond the traditional CMHC system and making mental health care available in more places. Indiana also significantly updated its crisis system in 2022 with the launch of the statewide 988 crisis line.
Efforts to improve the mental health system got a huge boost in 2023 when significant mental health funding bills were passed in Indiana. These funds are helping Indiana develop a comprehensive crisis response system by adding more mobile crisis response teams and crisis stabilization units. The state is also using the new funding to expand services at CMHCs so they can meet the federal criteria to be designated as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
You can use these new state services to get the help you need. If you’re in crisis or need mental health care and aren’t sure where to go, you can call 988 or a local crisis line—the people who answer know how the system works and will help you get where you need to go, whether it’s to a CSU, a CMHC, or a local non-profit.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 44 percent of people in Indiana who have mental health conditions get treatment for them. Many of them qualify for public mental health services but don’t know about them.
You can make a difference by reaching out and connecting with local mental health resources to get the care you need. If you’re not sure whether you qualify for Indiana state mental health services, call your local program or a state or local crisis line. You may find out you can get mental health services at a community mental health center or that there’s another affordable option nearby.
The most important thing is to get started—the help you need may be only a call or click away.