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What are the Different Types of Mental Health Services?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many different types of mental health services which might vary by community. Of the many different types of mental health services available, perhaps the most likely to be encountered are therapy and other forms of counseling, psychiatry, hospital programs, and social work programs designed to intervene, particularly when children are abused. There may also be organizations that have different advocacy programs or other services to offer the mentally ill and their families.

Therapy comes in many configurations. It can mean an individual taking a personal journey to better the self. It might mean couples or family therapy where people learn to improve the mental health of a group/family. Another type of therapy is group therapy, where an individual meets with a group of people he/she typically doesn’t know to explore a common interest. There are different types of mental health services within the group therapy setting, including groups that target grief, addiction, codependency, parenting, personal development, and specific mental illnesses.

Some of the people who seek individual counseling do so because they have mental illnesses like major depression, while others have no diagnosable illness and just might like some help working out problems. For someone dealing with mental illness, it’s also quite possible they will need assistance from a psychiatrist. Therapists, unless they are psychiatrists, cannot prescribe the medication needed to treat many mental illnesses.

It can be a little confusing because psychiatrists are typically therapists as well. The reverse is not true. Some people take advantage of two different types of mental health services by working with a psychiatrist and a therapist and others merely employ a psychiatrist for both therapy and medicine management.

Even with skillful management, people sometimes need greater care than can be provided at home. One of the different types of mental health services most required in communities is a hospital that can take care of people who have extensive psychiatric needs. Such hospitals may be differently configured. Some offer daytime only hospitalization, but most have what are called lockdown wards to take care of those with very unpredictable behavior. These hospitals work to rehabilitate patients so they can rejoin the world.

Other mental health services include those designed to protect children. Childhood abuse may create mental health issues, and child protective agencies, often run by social workers, may work to prevent this by their intervention. Very often, they end up working with entire families to restore the family instead of splitting it up. To do this they may use the services of therapists, psychiatrists or others.

Some communities have independent agencies dedicated to providing education and advocacy. They may work with those diagnosed with mental illness in a variety of ways and could help with things like job discrimination or daily coping strategies. Another of the different types of mental health services is counseling through work, available to employees. Some companies offer free and confidential limited counseling which might be utilized in stressful times.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Fa5t3r — On Oct 12, 2014

@clintflint - Part of the problem for a lot of people is that there is such a stigma around mental health they don't want to take advantage of the services that are available.

My father definitely would have benefited from counseling, but he would never have pursued psychiatric services because he thought they were an admission of weakness.

By clintflint — On Oct 11, 2014

@bythewell - I think people think of mental health as still being almost an optional thing and not a real disease. Just people being lazy or self-indulgent and that counseling is more like pandering to them.

But the places that do have comprehensive mental health services generally end up saving money in other ways and increasing quality of life in general. We would never tell cancer patients to just get over their disease and it seems like a decrease in an individual's mental health is even more detrimental to the community, so why not treat it seriously?

By bythewell — On Oct 10, 2014

I don't think there are many places in the world where mental health is treated a seriously as it should be. I have had problems with this in my own family, and it led me to do some research on the way that mental health services work. I read an article that really touched me and I can still remember it. It traced the breakdown of mental health services in New York City and how this led to an increase in murder and crime and homelessness, because people with mental illness had few alternatives.

In one case it detailed a man who had begged to be given therapy or to be locked up before he hurt someone, but for who there was no help given and who eventually did commit murders. Murders that could have been prevented if he had been given the help he asked for in the first place.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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