Guide to Finding a Psychiatrist in the Community

It can take an average of 1-3 months, or more, to find a new psychiatric provider, so begin your search early to ensure your psychiatric treatment is not interrupted. 

It is imperative that you continue to follow your psychiatric treatment plan uninterrupted. A lapse in your psychiatric treatment can result in serious medical and psychiatric complications for you. 

How to find a new psychiatric provider

This is a general guide on how to find a new psychiatric provider. It is your responsibility to contact the provider and/or their office and ensure: 1) that they are a good fit for you; 2) that they accept your insurance; 3) what your out of pocket costs will be, if any; and 4) that the information on their website or their profile is up to date and accurate. 

Providers who have the credentials MD (medical doctor), DO (doctor of osteopathy), NP (nurse practitioner), or PA (physician assistant) can prescribe medications. This is not an exhaustive list, just one to get you started. SHCS does not endorse any particular provider or agency. 

1. If you have private health insurance (like Kaiser, Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, etc), call your insurance company and ask them for a list of covered psychiatric providers in your area. The number is usually on the back of your insurance card, or you can Google it. You may also be able to search for a provider on your insurance company’s website.

If you are on your parents' or spouses' private health insurance and want to keep your mental health treatment private from them, follow the steps here:  Please keep in mind that this may result in higher out of pocket costs for you so be sure to consult with your insurance company about this.

2. If you have Medi-Cal or are uninsured, call the Alameda County ACCESS line (Adult Crisis Care and Evaluation for Systemwide Services) at 1-800-491-9099 to establish care with a psychiatric provider (and therapist). For more information: 

If you live in a different county, you can google the ACCESS line for that county. For example, if you live in San Mateo county, just google "San Mateo county ACCESS Line". 

3. If you are not sure if you have Medi-Cal, it is best to go in person to your county Medi-Cal office for assistance as they do not consistently answer the phones due to staffing issues. Go on a day where you have no classes or work and can spend the majority of the day at the office if needed so that you can make the most of your time in one visit. They can help you sort out your existing Medi-Cal insurance and help you sign up for new insurance if needed. Look up your local county office here: Department of Health Care Services - County Offices

4. If you do not have health insurance, please go to: and apply online to get insured. This website will guide you through the Medi-Cal application process, if you are eligible. Being insured will allow you to have access to mental health and medical services in the community.  You can also see some helpful information about preparing for the application process, and where to call if you need help, here.

5. If you have a previous psychiatrist in the area, call their office and see if they are able to see you again.

6. Go to and search for a psychiatric provider, enter your zip code, and insurance information (if you know it) and a list of providers will be displayed along with their appointment openings. You can schedule an appointment directly from this website, but do so only after you have confirmed that they accept your insurance, your total out of pocket cost, and that they are a good fit for you.

7. Go to and search for a psychiatric provider in your zip code. They may list their phone number and/or have a contact form to email them.

8. If you have friends or family who are seeing a psychiatric provider, and if you feel comfortable, you can ask them for their contact information and see if they are accepting new patients.

9. Try googling “psychiatrists” and whatever zip code you want them to be in.

10. If all else fails, and you have no one to refill your medications, you can ask your current primary care provider - or if you do not have one, schedule an appointment with a new primary care provider and ask them if they are comfortable managing your medications for you until you find a new psychiatric provider. This will depend on your diagnosis, medications, how well managed your mental health is at that time, and the provider’s comfort level with psychiatric medications. This should be a short-term solution only with the ultimate goal to establish care with a psychiatric provider for ongoing care.