Mental health and counseling


The coronavirus pandemic is really getting to me. Who can I call for support right now?

As always, call 911 for a life-threatening crisis.

Here we offer a list of crisis lines. We also have a list of low-cost local counseling resources in the Waco, Texas, area.

Texas Health and Human Services is offering a COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line, available 24/7: 833-986-1919. Mental health professionals help callers deal with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, and worry.

Locally in Waco and McLennan County, MHMR’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) provides community-based crisis assessment and response. The team meets people where they are: at home, on the street, in the hospital, or in a shelter. Call 866-752-3451.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress by phone and by chat, in English and in Spanish, as well as multiple options for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Here are the numbers, English: 800-273-8255; Spanish: 888-628-9454; Deaf and hard-of-hearing—TTY and chat: 800-799-4889, video relay service or voice/caption phone: 800-273-8255. Like the phone lines, chat is available 24/7. Because of the high demand, it may be necessary to wait for a counselor. The wait is worth it.

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters: 800-985-5990. Services are available in English and Spanish.

The Crisis Text Line offers free, confidential support to people in crisis via text. Text Home to 741741.

Finally, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a list of Warmlines that offer free confidential support in noncrisis situations. The Warmlines are listed by state, but many accept out-of-state calls. Some of them ask callers to leave a message and receive a call back.


Where can I get affordable or free counseling in the Waco area?

Local therapist and Amberley Collaborative board member Jaja Chen, LCSW, CDWF, offers this answer, with an assist from Sara Beth Stoltzfus, LMSW, of MCH Family Outreach:

There are quite a few places in the Greater Waco area that provide free or reduced-fee counseling options, depending on what type of counseling you are looking for. Some of these providers take insurance or offer telehealth counseling services, as indicated below.

Here we offer a list of low-cost local counseling resources in the Waco area. We also have a list of crisis lines for more immediate assistance.

The Advocacy Center has a 24-hour hotline (888-867-7233) and provides free counseling services for individuals, children, and families who have experienced sexual assault or other crimes against them. Spanish-speaking services are available. Their office phone number is 254-752-9330, and they are located at 3312 Hillcrest Drive. They are still providing services during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Family Abuse Center (FAC) provides free counseling services for individuals and children who have experienced domestic violence, whether currently or in the past. To access services, call the 24-hour hotline at 800-283-8401. Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, financial, and emotional or psychological abuse. Family Abuse Center provides services to clients living in the community as well as those staying at the domestic violence shelter. Spanish-speaking services are available. They are still providing services during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Family Health Center has a counseling center for individuals, children, couples, and families at their main site. The Center accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and most major health insurance plans. It can also provide a Good Health Card for discounted medical, dental, counseling, and other services for individuals and families without insurance who meet the income requirements to qualify. You can reach the Family Health Center’s counseling services at 254-313-4500. They are still providing services during the COVID-19 crisis. Telehealth services are available.

Heart of Texas MHMR serves individuals and families coping with mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, addictions, and emotional conflict. It also provides 24/7 mental health crisis response through its Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT): 866-752-3451. MHMR accepts most major health insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare, and provides sliding-scale and financial hardship payment options. Telehealth services are available.

The Heart of Texas Counseling Center, at 2800 Lyle Avenue in Waco, provides shorter-term (6–9 months) outpatient adult mental health services to individuals who do not qualify for the main MHMR services but are needing support in mental health recovery. Sessions are provided on an income-based sliding scale. Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance plans are accepted, but they are not required because the center seeks to not turn anyone away due to lack of insurance or income. Bilingual Spanish-speaking services are available. To access services, call 254-297-7100. They are still providing services during the COVID-19 crisis. Telehealth services are available.

Dr. Jasmine Khan’s Professional Counseling Services is a group of therapists who provide insurance-based counseling services. Most major types of insurance and payment are accepted, including Medicaid and Crime Victim’s Compensation (CVC). Sliding-scale therapy is provided by Licensed Professional Counseling interns. Call 254-235-6542 to discuss options. Telehealth services are available.

The Klaras Center for Children and Families (known as KCF) assists children and adolescents, ages 3 through 21, who have significant emotional or behavioral difficulties. These children must demonstrate a need for intensive services and meet eligibility requirements. Call the Klaras Center directly at 254-752-7889 to speak with an intake specialist, who will conduct a phone screening and, if appropriate, schedule an admissions appointment for your child.

STARRY Counseling Waco provides free family and individual counseling services to families with children ages 6–17 years old. Services are open to all families regardless of income level or insurance coverage. Common reasons families may pursue counseling at STARRY include divorce, grief, family conflict, behavioral issues, parenting support, and trauma. STARRY’s phone number is 254-399-6552. Free telehealth services are available.

The Baylor Psychology Clinic offers sliding scale counseling to children and adults. As of this writing, they are not accepting new patients during the COVID-19 crisis, but they are continuing with current clients via telehealth: 254-710-2470.

MCH Family Outreach provides free in-home case management and support to families, as well as parenting classes and support groups. Case managers can provide families with support connecting to counseling and other resources. During COVID-19, family support continues creatively, primarily through video and phone calls. Call 254-750-1263 for more information.

Mental Health Match is an online directory that individuals can use to find a Texas-based licensed private practice therapist. Therapists indicate whether or not they provide telehealth services along with their counseling specializations in their online portals. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mental Health Match is providing the first counseling session (for up to 100 participants) for free.

Through the Coronavirus Online Therapy directory, therapists across the United States have committed to providing low-cost services (maximum $50 per session for the first 4 counseling sessions) to frontline workers. Frontline healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, and other frontline essential workers who are serving us during the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to follow up directly with therapists listed in the online directory.

Finally, some private practice therapists have sliding-scale and free counseling slots open. You can ask about this option when you inquire about counseling. If you do not have insurance, you can tell them that you are looking for sliding-scale or reduced-fee options for counseling. In addition to Dr. Jasmine Khan’s Professional Counseling Services, detailed above, you might try Get Out of Your Head Therapy.

Can you add to or improve one of our answers? Do you have a question of your own? Fill out this form to let us know.