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Getting Mental Health Care

Emergency Mental Health Care

What is a mental health emergency?

You have an emergency if the patient:

  • Is at immediate risk of serious harm to self or others as a result of mental disorder
  • Needs immediate continuous skilled observation at the acute level of care (based on a psychiatric evaluation)

When you have a mental health emergency:

Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

You don’t need to get a referral or prior authorization for any outpatient mental health (except psychoanalysis) and substance use disorder (SUD) care. This includes services like therapy and counseling.  If you choose a provider outside the network, you may pay higher costs. 

For psychoanalysis or care from an institutional provider outside of a military hospital or clinic, you must get a referral for non-emergency mental health and SUD care.  

We don't want to discourage you from getting help. We want to make sure your condition doesn't negatively affect your health and ability to perform your duties.

If you Then

Are an active duty service member

You need to get a referral and prior authorization for all mental health care.

Are a non-active duty TRICARE Prime beneficiary

You need to get a referral and prior authorization for psychoanalysis and outpatient therapy for substance use disorder provided by a substance use disorder rehabilitation facility.

Use TRICARE For Life

Medicare is the primary payer for mental health care. You only need a referral or authorization from TRICARE if your Medicare benefits are exhausted.

Use any other TRICARE health plan

You need to get a referral and authorization for psychoanalysis and outpatient therapy for substance use disorder provided by a substance use disorder rehabilitation facility.

Not sure if you need help?

Take a voluntary, anonymous self-assessment to see if you have symptoms that are consistent with a condition that would benefit from further treatment or evaluation.

Do you need prescription drugs for a mental health condition?

You must be under the care of a provider who can prescribe drugs and manage your dosage. Some types of mental health providers can prescribe drugs, but others can't. >>Learn more

Last Updated 7/13/2017

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