Find the Right Mental Health Care for You

NEW and 211Visit, your one-stop shop for mental health and substance abuse information, resources, and service navigation in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties. The site, developed  by the Northeast Wisconsin Mental Health Connection, in partnership with United Way 2-1-1, was funded by a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, a fund of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

Visit for resources

The site provides information about mental health and alcohol/substance abuse services in our region, including a robust local service directory. Throughout the site, you’ll learn more about key health topics, current legislation, and organizations that provide assistance to our local community. Take a quick, anonymous mental health screening to assess your risk for a number of mental health challenges, and quickly and easily find your way to help and hope.

Regardless of where you begin your search, helps you find what you need - it helps ensure that there is "No Wrong Door" for those who need information, resources, and connection to services.

If you or someone you know may benefit from a counselor or mental health center, here are some questions and guidelines to help you find the right care:

Which professional is right for me?

There are many types of mental health professionals. Finding the right one for you may require some research. Often it is a good idea to first describe the symptoms and / or problems to your family physician or clergy. He or she can suggest the type of mental health professional you should call.

You make the call to the mental health professional…now what do you do?

If possible, spend a few minutes talking with him or her on the phone, ask about their approach to working with patients, their philosophy, whether or not they have a specialty or concentration (some psychologists for instance specialize in family counseling or child counseling, while others specialize in divorce or coping with the loss of a loved one).

Desirable Qualities of a Mental Health Provider
  • Services should be person-centered. They should respond to the needs of clients rather than those of the system or the providers.
  • Services should empower people. They should incorporate self-help approaches and allow clients to retain the greatest possible control over their own lives, including active involvement in all aspects of planning and delivering services.
  • Services should be racially and culturally appropriate. They should be accessible, and acceptable to racial, ethnic, minority groups, and women, and appropriate to clients' developmental stages.
  • Services should be flexible. They should be available when they are needed, for as long as they are needed.
  • Services should focus on strengths. They should be built on the assets and strengths of clients in order to maintain their sense of dignity, identity, and self-esteem.
  • Services should be normalized and incorporate natural supports. They should be offered in the least restrictive, most natural setting possible. Clients should be encouraged to use natural community supports and be integrated into normal community activities.
  • Services should meet special needs. They should be adapted to meet the special needs of clients.
  • Services should be accountable. They should be monitored by the state to assure quality of care and continued relevance.
  • Services should be coordinated. They should be coordinated through mandates and / or written agreements that require ongoing communication and linkages to ensure continuity of care across many systems at the local and state levels.
Here are some questions to keep in mind:
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • Where did you receive your degree?
  • What is your degree in?
  • What is your philosophy of treatment/care?
  • Do you have a specialty or area of concentration?
  • What type of patients do you accept?
  • Are you a board certified psychiatrist?
  • Are you a psychologist (or counselor) that specializes in severe mental illness?
  • Are you able to prescribe medications?
  • Have you had any founded violations of the Medical Practices Act?
  • Has the Wisconsin Board that governs your practice ever taken action against you?
  • Have you had any founded violations of any Professional Codes of Ethics?
  • What is your approach to working with patients/clients? What is your approach to working with family members?

If you feel comfortable talking to the therapist or doctor, the next step is to make an appointment. On your first visit, the therapist or the doctor will want to get to know you and why you called him or her. The therapist will want to know-- what you think the problem is, about your life, what you do, where you live, with whom you live. It is also common to be asked about your family and friends. Answer questions with honesty, accuracy and consistency since this is important information that helps the professional assess your situation and develop a plan for treatment.

If you don't feel comfortable with the professional after the first, or even several visits, talk about your feelings at your next meeting; don't be afraid to contact another therapist. Feeling comfortable with the professional you choose is very important to the success of your treatment.

How much will therapy cost?

The cost of treatment depends on many factors including the type of treatment; the therapist's training, where treatment takes place and your insurance coverage. Fees are set by the individual agencies based on these factors. Some agencies also provide a sliding fee scale (adjusted rate) for those unable to pay the full fee.

Am I getting the care I need?

As you progress through the therapeutic process, you should begin to feel gradual relief from your distress, to develop self-assurance, and have a greater ability to make decisions and increased control in your relationship with others. Therapy may be painful and uncomfortable at times but episodes of discomfort occur during the most successful therapy sessions. Mental health treatment should help you cope with your feelings more effectively.

If you feel you are not getting results, it may be because the treatment you are receiving is not the one best suited to your specific needs. If you feel there are problems, discuss them with your therapist. A competent therapist will be eager to discuss your reactions to therapy and respond to your concerns about the process. If you are still dissatisfied, a consultation with another therapist may help you and your therapist evaluate your work together.

  1. Feel free to seek a second opinion. Any responsible mental health professional will be glad to help with referrals or by sharing information. If you have questions about your diagnosis or the proposed course of treatment, by all means, arrange an independent consultation with another clinician.
  2. Learn about the diagnosis and issues. Use books, pamphlets, and recommended web sites. Again, use this information to ask questions during your meetings with the therapist.
  3. Know the details of your insurance policy, and learn about the laws governing insurance in your state. For example, in some states, insurance companies must provide access to a specialist, such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, within a certain distance from your home. If no such specialist is available as part of the company's "network," you may be able to receive treatment from a provider of your choice, with the insurance company responsible for full payment.
  4. Ask about other sources of funding that may be available such as Medicaid or an adjusted fee based on ability to pay.
  5. If you are seeking services for a child, you can work with the child's school. The school's student service staff can refer you and your child to various agencies in the area. You can request copies of your child's educational records, including the results of any formal testing or other evaluations. You can also ask to be included in any and all school meetings held to discuss your child.
  6. If necessary, use a lawyer. Learn about the local legal resources. Find out which lawyers in your community are familiar with educational and mental health issues. Talk to your local Protection and Advocacy agency or legal assistance agencies for suggestions.

[1] From the American Counseling Association, (Crisis Fact Sheets) 03.20.07.

[2] Based on information from the Mental Health Association of SE PA, 1211 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-751-1800.

[3] Based on information from NAMI.