How To Get Affordable State Sponsored Therapy in New York
Many people don’t realize that publicly-funded mental health services are available in their state. People looking for free or low-cost counseling often think their only options are counselors in private practice and don’t know that publicly-funded providers in their communities may also offer counseling services.
While state-based programs are not for everyone, they are often a great place to start for people who face geographic or financial barriers to therapy. Intake specialists at community mental health programs can help people learn whether they qualify for state-funded services and can refer people who don’t qualify to other low-cost programs that may be able to meet their needs.
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When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?
Public mental health providers are usually the best option when you’re having a mental health crisis and need help right away. They’re also generally good options when you have severe, complex, or multiple conditions that require specialized or coordinated care. For example, public programs often have integrated programs for people with dually-diagnosed mental health and substance use disorders. Evidence shows that these programs are the most effective way to treat co-occurring conditions, but they can be hard to find in the private sector.
In some cases, public mental health programs only accept people with severe conditions or people who are at risk of psychiatric hospitalization. However, due to the diversity of programs licensed by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), this isn’t as true in New York. If you’re looking for free or low-cost counseling, public clinics and counseling programs may be a good choice where you live. Again, the best way to find out if an OMH program is the right match for you is to call and ask. If you find out your local program isn’t a good fit, you can search for free or low-cost private practice counselors on OpenCounseling.com.
About 20 percent of New Yorkers experience symptoms of a mental health condition every year, and 10 percent have symptoms severe enough to impact their ability to function at work, home, or school. Research shows that almost 40 percent of New Yorkers with a serious mental health condition don’t get treatment for it and that more than 60 percent of adults in New York who have symptoms of depression haven’t received any treatment for them in the past year. Services like NYC Well and the OMH program search tool have been created to help change these statistics and link more New Yorkers with the services they need. By using these tools or calling a local helpline, you can get help finding the right program so you can address the issues you face and start feeling better.
Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in New York?
Many states have the same eligibility requirements for public mental health services across the entire state. However, the programs licensed by OMH vary in eligibility requirements and what types of insurance plans or other forms of payment they accept. Most accept Medicaid and Medicare, and some accept private insurance plans.
A significant number of clinics offer services to people regardless of their ability to pay and have a sliding-scale fee structure for people who don’t have insurance or who don’t have a plan that the program accepts. Severity requirements also vary; some OMH providers and programs are primarily for people with serious mental illness, while others include services for people with more moderate symptoms or conditions.
The best way to find out if you are eligible for services at a public mental health program in New York is to call that program and describe your needs and the services you’re looking for. If you’re not sure who to call, most counties have a general mental health crisis and referral hotline you can call to talk about your symptoms and get matched with the right provider.
These numbers and numbers for clinics in each county are listed below. In cases where several independently administered programs are available in a particular county, a few selected options are listed. In many cases, if you call one local clinic that isn’t the right fit, staff will know where to redirect you.
New York's Mental Health Clinics and Crisis Lines
- Albany County: (518) 549-6500 (crisis line) or (518) 447-4555 (Albany County Mental Health Clinic)
- Allegany County: (888) 448-3367 (crisis line) or (585) 593-6300 (The Counseling Center)
- Bronx County: (888) 692-9355 (New York City crisis and referral line) or (718) 519-3440 (North Central Bronx Hospital Adult Outpatient Services) or (718) 904-4434 (Montefiore Behavioral Health Center Outpatient Services)
- Broome County: (607) 762-2302 (crisis line) or (607) 724-1391 (Greater Binghamton Health Center)
- Cattaraugus County: (800) 339-5209 (crisis line) or (716) 373-8040 (Olean Counseling Center)
- Cayuga County: (877) 400-8740 (crisis line) or (315) 253-0341 (crisis line and Cayuga County Community Mental Health Center clinic line)
- Chautauqua County: (800) 724-0461 (crisis line) or (716) 661-8330 (Jamestown Mental Health Clinic) or (716) 363-3550 (Dunkirk Mental Health Clinic)
- Chemung County: (607) 737-5369 (crisis line) or (607) 737-4711 (Elmira Psychiatric Center)
- Chenango County: (877) 369-6699 (crisis line) or (607) 337-1600 (Chenango County Behavioral Health Services)
- Clinton County: (866) 577-3836 (crisis line) or (518) 565-4060 (Clinton County Mental Health Clinic)
- Columbia County: (518) 828-9446 (crisis line) or (518) 828-9446 (Columbia County Mental Health Center)
- Cortland County: (607) 756-3771 (crisis line) or (607) 758-6100 (Cortland County Mental Health Clinic)
- Delaware County: (315) 732-6228 (crisis line) or (607) 832-5888 (Delaware County Mental Health Clinic)
- Dutchess County: (845) 485-9700 (crisis and access line) or (845) 486-2703 (Hudson Valley Mental Health, Inc.)
- Erie County: (716) 834-3131 (Erie County crisis and service access line)
- Essex County: (888) 854-3773 (crisis line) or (518) 873-3670 (Essex County Mental Health Services)
- Franklin County: (518) 891-2280 (Franklin County crisis and clinic line)
- Fulton County: (518) 842-9111 (crisis line) or (518) 773-3531 (Fulton County Adult Mental Health Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital)
- Genesee County: (800) 345-4400 (crisis line) or (585) 344-1421 (Genesee County Mental Health Services)
- Greene County: (518) 622-3344 (crisis line) or (518) 622-9163 (Greene County Mental Health Center)
- Hamilton County: (800) 533-8443 (crisis line) or (518) 648-5355 (Hamilton County Community Services)
- Herkimer County: (315) 732-6228 (crisis line) or (315) 867-1465 (Herkimer County Mental Health Services)
- Jefferson County: (315) 782-2327 (crisis line) or (315) 782-7445 (Community Clinic of Jefferson County) or (315) 493-3300 (Carthage Area Hospital Behavioral Health Clinic)
- Kings County: (888) 692-9355 (New York City crisis and referral line) or (718) 245-2727 (Kings County Behavioral Health Center Adult Outpatient Program)
- Lewis County: (315) 405-0696 (crisis line) or (315) 376-5450 (Behavioral Health and Wellness Center)
- Livingston County: 211 or (877) 356-9211 (crisis line) or (585) 243-7250 (Livingston County Mental Health Services)
- Madison County: (800) 721-2215 (crisis line) or (315) 366-2327 (Madison County Mental Health Department Outpatient Clinic)
- Monroe County: (585) 275-5151 (crisis line) or (585) 922-7770 (Genesee Mental Health Center) or (585) 445-5310 (Endeavor Adult Mental Health Clinic) or (585) 922-2500 (Rochester Behavioral Health Network)
- Montgomery County: (518) 842-9111 (crisis) or (518) 841-7341 (St. Mary’s Hospital Montgomery County Adult Mental Health Clinic)
- Nassau County: (516) 227-8255 (crisis line) or (516) 377-5400 (South Nassau Communities Hospital Mental Health Counseling Center) or (516) 486-6862 (Nassau University Medical Center Ambulatory Mental Health Service)
- New York County: (888) 692-9355 (New York City crisis and referral line) or (212) 562-4721 (Bellevue Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic) or (212) 432-6645 (Metropolitan Hospital Behavioral Health Pavilion)
- Niagara County: (716) 285-3515 (crisis line) or (716) 439-7400 (Lockport Integrated Care Clinic) or (716) 278-1940 (Niagara Falls Integrated Care Clinic)
- Oneida County: (844) 732-6228 (crisis line) or (315) 272-2723 (Utica Adult Behavioral Health Clinic) or (315) 272-2748 (Rome Adult Behavioral Health Clinic)
- Onondaga County: (315) 251-0600 (crisis line) or (315) 426-3600 (Hutchings Psychiatric Center Adult Outpatient Services) or (315) 464-3165 (SUNY Upstate Medical University Adult Psychiatry Clinic
- Ontario County: (877) 356-9211 (crisis line) or (585) 396-4363 (Canandaigua Clinic) or (315) 789-6706 (Geneva Clinic)
- Orange County: (800) 832-1200 (crisis and information hotline) or (845) 858-1456 (Port Jervis Outpatient Clinic) or (845) 343-6686 (Rockland Psychiatric Center Middletown Mental Health Clinic) or (845) 562-7326 (RPC Newburgh Mental Health Clinic)
- Orleans County: (585) 283-5200 (care and crisis helpline) or (585) 589-7066 (Orleans County Mental Health Clinic)
- Oswego County: (315) 251-0800 (crisis line) or (315) 326-4100 (Oswego Hospital Outpatient Behavioral Health Services)
- Otsego County: (crisis line): (844) 732-6228 (crisis line) or (607) 433-2343 (Otsego County Mental Health Clinic)
- Putnam County: (845) 225-1222(crisis line) or (845) 225-2700 (Cove Care Center) or (845) 278-2500 (Rockland Psychiatric Center Putnam Clinic)
- Queens County: (888) 692-9355 (New York City crisis and referral line) or (718) 883-2725 (Queens Hospital Behavioral Health Center)
- Rensselaer County: (518) 270-2800 (crisis line and Unified Services information line) or (518) 463-8869 (Rensselaer Center)
- Richmond County: (888) 692-9355 (New York City crisis and referral line) or (718) 818-6132 (Behavioral Health Services at Richmond University Medical Center, 4 locations) or (718) 667-2300 (South Beach Psychiatric Center Outpatient Clinics)
- Rockland County: (845) 517-0400 (Behavioral Health Response Team and crisis line) or (845) 364-2150 (Pomona Mental Health Clinic)
- St. Lawrence County: (315) 265-2422 (crisis line) or (315) 386-2167 (St. Lawrence County Mental Health Clinic) or (315) 541-2112 (St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center)
- Saratoga County: (518) 584-9030 (crisis line and Saratoga County Mental Health Clinic line)
- Schenectady County: (518) 243-4000 (crisis line) or (518) 243-3300 (Schenectady County Outpatient Mental Health Services)
- Schoharie County: (315) 732-6228 (crisis line) or (518) 295-8336 (Schoharie County Mental Health Center)
- Schulyer County: 211 or (877) 356-9211 (crisis line) or (607) 535-8282 (Schuyler County Mental Health Clinic and Counseling Center)
- Seneca County: 211 or (877) 356-9211 (crisis line) or (315) 539-1980 (Seneca County Community Counseling Center)
- Steuben County: (607) 664-2255 (crisis line) or (607) 664-2255 (Bath Clinic) or (607) 324-2483 (Hornell Clinic) or (607) 937-6201 (Corning Clinic)
- Suffolk County: (631) 751-7500 (crisis line) or (631) 853-7300 (Brentwood Clinic) or (631) 854-2552 (Farmingville Clinic) or (631) 852-1440 (Riverhead Clinic)
- Sullivan County: (845) 790-0911 (crisis line) or (845) 292-8770 (Sullivan County Mental Health Clinic)
- Tioga County: (607) 687-4000 (daytime crisis line) or (607) 687-1010 (after-hours crisis line) or (607) 687-4000 (Owego Clinic) or (607) 565-9594 (Waverly Clinic)
- Tompkins County: (607) 272-1616 (crisis line) or (607) 274-6200 (Tompkins County Outpatient Clinic)
- Ulster County: (844) 277-4820 (crisis line) or (845) 486-2703 (Hudson Valley Mental Health) or (845) 340-4000 (Kingston Mental Health Clinic) (845) 339-4733 (Pine Grove Clinic)
- Warren County: (518) 969-1140 (crisis line) or (518) 926-3200 (Glen Falls Hospital Behavioral Health Outpatient Center) or (518) 747-8243 (Caleo Counseling Services)
- Washington County: (518) 969-1140 (crisis line) or (518) 926-3200 (Glen Falls Hospital Behavioral Health Outpatient Center) or (518) 747-8243 (Caleo Counseling Services)
- Wayne County: 211 or (877) 356-9211 (crisis line) or (315) 946-5722 (Community Counseling Center of Wayne County)
- Westchester County: (914) 925-5959 (crisis line) or (914) 345-0700 (Mental Health Association of Westchester, multiple locations) or (845) 359-1000 (Rockland Psychiatric Center Outpatient Clinics, multiple locations)
- Wyoming County: (800) 724-8583 or (585) 283-5200 (crisis lines) or (585) 786-0190 (Wyoming County Mental Health Clinic)
- Yates County: 211 or (877) 356-9211 or (crisis line) or (315) 531-2400 (John D. Kelly Behavioral Health Center Clinic)
New York's Robust Online Mental Health Search Tools
You can use OMH’s robust online tools to review more options. Their “Find a Mental Health Program” site allows you to explore the full directory of OMH-licensed providers in your county. If you’re looking for therapy, you’ll find the most relevant providers by selecting the “Outpatient” program category and the “Clinic Treatment” program subcategory.
For some counties, you’ll only get a single result—the central clinic for that county. Other counties have dozens of programs to browse. You can click on each program to find a fuller description of its services, a phone number, and a link to its main website. Call before you visit to ask about eligibility requirements and whether a sliding scale is available.
If you’re living in New York City, you can use the OMH program search tool by filtering for the county your borough is in. However, due to the large number of providers available, you may be better served by using NYC Well, New York City’s free, confidential crisis, information, and mental health referral service. You can call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), text 65173, or open a chat window on the website to communicate with a mental health professional who will listen, offer support, and give you referral information for providers who can meet your needs.
Federally Qualified Health Centers
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in New York. These federally-funded programs provide medical and mental health services to people in underserved communities. Their goal is to deliver high-quality coordinated care to people with complex needs and to link behavioral healthcare with primary medical care. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers sliding-scale fees to people without insurance. You can search for FQHCs using the online search tool on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
How Does New York's Public Mental Health System Work?
In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. State and federal laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. Many states’ current public mental health programs can trace their origins back to this period. New York’s community mental health system goes back even further. The state established its Department of Mental Hygiene in 1926 and its community mental health program in 1954.
In many states, community mental health programs are administered separately by each county and focus on services for people with severe and persistent mental illness—people with a history or a risk of psychiatric hospitalization. Essential community mental health services include crisis intervention, case management, rehabilitation services, forensic mental health, social services, and practical interventions to help people with psychiatric conditions live independently in the community. Most community mental health programs have outpatient departments, but the extent to which individual therapy is available at these programs varies.
New York has one of the highest concentrations of mental health professionals of any state, and New York City is well known for the large number of therapists who live and practice there. While the vast majority of these therapists are in private practice, New York boasts a similarly extensive network of public and non-profit agencies that provide therapy as well as other outpatient, inpatient, mobile, and in-home mental health services.
New York’s public mental health system is one of the largest and most complex in the country. As in other states, many of New York’s public mental health programs are administered by the counties they serve. Rural New York counties with low population densities are the most likely to provide services through a central county agency. However, in some counties, especially the urban counties that make up New York City and other large metropolitan areas, services are provided by a scattered collection of state, local, and independent organizations instead.
New York’s public mental health system includes any program operated, regulated, licensed, or overseen by the Office of Mental Health (OMH). Currently, OMH licenses over 4,500 programs. These include county mental health centers, hospital-based outpatient clinics, and independent non-profit agencies. Public programs for the treatment of substance use disorders are overseen by another state department, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
In the 2010s, New York implemented the OMH Transformation Plan and Medicaid Redesign Program. The goals of these initiatives are to make New York’s public mental health services more person-centered and consistent, with a more centralized structure and more coordination between medical and behavioral health providers across the state. These initiatives also aim to reduce unnecessary use of inpatient mental health services.
New York is one of the states selected to participate in the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) pilot program overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This program has similar goals as New York’s state initiatives to update OMH and Medicaid. As these programs move forward, mental health consumers in New York will be able to find and link more services through their nearest OMH provider.