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New Hampshire Mental Health Services Guide

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're 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.


 

When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?

 

Few private mental health providers are able to immediately serve people in crisis, while most state mental health programs, including New Hampshire's, have crisis response systems that help people get mental health care quickly in an emergency. This usually makes public mental health services the best option if you're having a mental health crisis and need help right away. The people who answer 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.

 

Publicly-funded outpatient mental health programs in New Hampshire are called community mental health centers (CMHCs). In addition to affordable therapy, CMHCs provide specialized and intensive services that aren't available anywhere else or that are hard to find in private clinics, like case management, psychosocial rehabilitation, and day treatment. Consider going to a CMHC if you need intensive treatment, live in an area with limited mental health resources, or can't access mental health care in the private sector due to your diagnosis or financial situation.


Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in New Hampshire?

 

New Hampshire's mental health system prioritizes people who are uninsured or underinsured. However, the New Hampshire Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) does not list these or other financial criteria as requirements for eligibility on their official mental health eligibility page. However, the BBH does list clinical eligibility criteria for outpatient services. To receive services at a New Hampshire CMHC, you must meet criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to be diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions:

 

  • Schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, or another mood disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Anorexia, bulimia, or another eating disorder
  • Dementia that causes impairment due to psychiatric symptoms and also causes anxiety, depression, delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia
  • Panic disorder

 

Your mental health condition(s) must also negatively impact your ability to function in daily life. The New Hampshire BBH requires that you have significant impairments in at least one of the following areas or minor impairments in all of them:

 

  • Activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, feeding, etc.); 
  • Interpersonal functioning (friendships, family relationships, etc.); 
  • Adaptation to change (being able to modify your routine when necessary); and
  • Concentration and task performance or pace (completing common tasks, such as dialing a telephone number, in a reasonable amount of time).

 

Note that these eligibility criteria are for outpatient mental health services at a CMHC. You do not have to meet any of these criteria to receive emergency mental health services in New Hampshire, which include hotline support, crisis intervention, and assessment. You simply need to be experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New Hampshire. 

 

Given that you may meet criteria for a DSM diagnosis and not be aware of it, we recommend reaching out to your local CMHC or calling a statewide hotline to discuss your case. The person who answers can help you determine whether you may be eligible to receive therapy or other outpatient services at a New Hampshire CMHC.


How Can You Find Out More About Local Programs in New Hampshire?

 

To find out where you can get affordable mental health services in your area, including from a local CMHC, you can call 2-1-1, the New Hampshire mental health and substance use disorder treatment information line. The New Hampshire branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also operates a mental health treatment information and support line you can reach by calling (800) 242-6264. For general information on the New Hampshire public mental health system, you can call the Bureau of Behavioral Health's main number at (603) 271-5000.

 

You can also call the CMHC where you are interested in receiving services to find out more about the programs they offer and whether you may be eligible. We've listed numbers for all ten New Hampshire CMHCs below. We got this information from the official BBH website, the website for the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association (CBHA), and the webpages for individual CMHCs (see the section below to find the link to the CMHC closest to you).

 

New Hampshire's Mental Health Clinics and Access Numbers

 

 

  • Region 1: Northern Human Services
    1. Serving Carroll County, Coos County, and Upper Grafton County
    2. Main Number (Conway): (603) 447-3347
    3. Emergency Services Numbers:
      • Berlin: (603) 752-7404
      • Colebrook: (603) 237-4955
      • Conway (Daytime): (603) 447-2111 
      • Conway (After Hours): (603) 356-5461 (Memorial Hospital; Ask for Emergency Services)
      • Groveton: (603) 636-2555
      • Littleton: (603) 444-5358
      • Wolfeboro (Daytime): (603) 569-1884 
      • Wolfeboro (After Hours): (603) 569-7500 (Huggins Hospital; Ask for Emergency Services)
      • Woodsville: (603) 747-3658
    4. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Berlin Community Services Center: (603) 752-1005
      • Berlin Mental Health Center: (603) 752-7404
      • Colebrook Mental Health Center: (603) 237-4955
      • Conway Mental Health Center: (603) 447-2111
      • Conway Administrative Office: (603) 447-3347
      • Groveton Mental Health Center: (603) 636-2555
      • White Mountain Mental Health (Littleton): (603) 444-5358
      • White Mountain Mental Health (Woodsville): (603) 747-3658
      • Wolfeboro Mental Health Center: (603) 569-1884

 

  • Region 2: West Central Behavioral Health
    1. Serving the Upper Valley (Lower Grafton County) and Sullivan County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Lebanon): (603) 448-0126
      • New Client/Intake Line: (603) 542-5128
      • Emergency Services Number: (800) 564-2578
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Administrative Office (Lebanon): (603) 448-0126
      • Lebanon Adult Outpatient Services: (603) 448-5610
      • Claremont Adult Outpatient Services: (603) 542-2578
      • Newport Adult Residential Services: (603) 863-1785

 

  • Region 3: Lakes Region Mental Health Center
    1. Serving Belknap County and Lower Grafton County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Laconia): (603) 524-1100
      • Emergency Services Number: (603) 528-0305
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Laconia): (603) 524-1100
      • Plymouth Office: (603) 524-1100

 

  • Region 4: Riverbend Community Mental Health
    1. Serving Merrimack County and Upper Hillsborough County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Concord): (603) 228-1600
      • Emergency Services Number: (844) 743-5748
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Emergency Services Office (Concord): (844) 743-5748
      • Counseling Associates (Concord): (603) 228-1600
      • Community Support Program (Concord): (603) 225-0123
      • Franklin Office: (603) 934-3400

 

  • Region 5: Monadnock Family Services
    1. Serving Cheshire County and Western Hillsborough County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Keene): (603) 357-4400
      • Emergency Services Number: (603) 357-4400
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Location:
      • Keene Office: (603) 357-4400

 

  • Region 6: Greater Nashua Mental Health
    1. Serving Lower Hillsborough County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Nashua): (603) 889-6147
      • Teléfono Principal (Nashua): (844) 245-4458
      • Emergency Services Number: (800) 762-8191
      • Servicios de Emergencia: (844) 245-4545
      • InteGreat Health: (603) 402-1501
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Location:
      • Nashua Location: (603) 889-6147

 

  • Region 7: The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
    1. Serving Central Hillsborough County, Hooksett, and Western Rockingham County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Manchester): (603) 668-4111
      • Emergency Services Number/Mobile Crisis Response: (800) 688-3544
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Cypress Street, Manchester): (603) 668-4111
      • Bedford Counseling Associates (Wall Street, Manchester): (603) 623-1916
      • Community Support Services (Elm Street, Manchester): (603) 668-4111 x5326
      • North End Counseling (Blodget Street, Manchester): (603) 668-4111 x5355

 

  • Region 8: Seacoast Mental Health Center
    1. Serving Eastern Rockingham County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Portsmouth): (603) 431-6703
      • Emergency Services Number (Portsmouth): (603) 431-6703
      • Main Number: (Exeter): (603) 772-2710
      • Emergency Services Number (Exeter): (603) 772-2710
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Portsmouth Office: (603) 431-6703
      • Exeter Office: (603) 772-2710

 

  • Region 9: Community Partners of Strafford County
    1. Serving Strafford County
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Dover): (603) 516-9300 or (800) 454-0630
      • Emergency Services Number: (603) 516-9300 or (800) 454-0630
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office and Crosby Community Office: (603) 516-9300
      • Dover Behavioral Health Office: (603) 516-9300
      • Rochester Behavioral Health and Community Office: (603) 516-9300
      • Rochester Community Counseling Office: (603) 516-9300

 

  • Region 10: Center for Life Management
    1. Serving Southwestern Rockingham County and Pelham
    2. Phone Numbers:
      • Main Number (Derry): (603) 434-1577
      • Emergency Services Number: (603) 434-1577 x1
    3. Adult Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Derry): (603) 434-1577
      • Salem Office: (603) 434-1577

 

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in New Hampshire. 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 Hampshire's Public Mental Health System Work?

In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. New laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. Many states trace the origins of their public mental health programs back to this period. 

 

New Hampshire is no exception. While some of New Hampshire's CMHCs were established before the 1960s—including Greater Nashua Mental Health, which was originally founded as a community organization a century ago—the vast majority were founded after President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Act in 1963.

 

Despite founding most of its CMHCs by the mid-to-late 1960s, New Hampshire continued to rely on its state psychiatric hospital for most of its public mental health care throughout the 1970s. In the 1980s, New Hampshire invested money and effort into strengthening its community-based system. By 1990, New Hampshire had been recognized by NAMI and other organizations as having one of the best community-based public mental health systems in the country.

 

Unfortunately, continued funding cuts, especially cuts made since the 2008 recession, have lowered the quality of New Hampshire's once-excellent system. Lack of capacity and staff at New Hampshire Hospital, other inpatient facilities, and community-based providers has made it hard for people to get in or out of the hospital for mental health treatment. People often wait for days and even weeks for inpatient beds in the emergency departments of local hospitals. 

 

New Hampshire's practice of placing people who have not been charged with a crime in the state prison for secure psychiatric treatment has been just as controversial as the state's long waitlist to get into a hospital. In response to these practices, New Hampshire has been sued by advocacy groups, the ACLU, and the Department of Justice. Fortunately, New Hampshire has responded to the lawsuits and has recently been making significant efforts to improve its system, including increasing mental health funding and system capacity.

 

Public mental health services in New Hampshire are managed on the state level by the Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) within the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The Division of Community-Based Services oversees the state's psychiatric hospital and the Bureau of Mental Health Services within the BBH oversees its community mental health centers

 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only 50 percent of people in New Hampshire who have mental health conditions get treatment for them. One reason for the care gap is that people aren't aware of their options for affordable mental health care, including the public mental health system. You can help change these statistics by reaching out and using your local mental health resources to get the care you need.


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