Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. However, if you having trouble finding a provider or think help is out of reach, don’t give up. There are options are the for finding affordable mental health care.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now is the perfect opportunity to put a spotlight on mental health to share our experiences and resources. Freely discussing our struggles removes the stigma and helps everyone find the support they need. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we can work together to improve our collective mental health.
The Cost of Mental Health Care
It took me a long time before I finally sought help to help manage my mental health. When I first struggled with anxiety and depression, I tried to ignore the issues and push through daily life. The social stigma was a significant part of what was holding me back from getting help. I didn’t want everyone to know that I wasn’t strong enough to cope with my problems.
However, it was the financial cost that was the deciding factor for me. I was a poor college student who could barely afford basic medical care, let alone regular therapy. And, it can get expensive if you have to pay out of pocket. Unfortunately, mental healthcare is still not covered by all insurance plans. If it is, you’ll have to jump through hoops to get assistance which usually only covers a portion of it.
Finally, I came to a point where I could no longer ignore the problem. I was completely overwhelmed and it was affecting my professional and personal relationships. I realized that if I didn’t find support soon, the stress could take a physical toll as well.
5 Tips for Finding Affordable Mental Health Care
If you have decided that it’s time to find support, here are a few tips for finding affordable mental health care options.
1. Insurance and Healthcare Plan
Before you start looking for a therapist, you should start with your insurance company. Get familiar with your coverage and the doctors that are included in your network. Most companies also offer online chats and messaging systems to help answer your questions faster.
It’s also much easier if you take a deductive approach and look for providers in your network. Within an hour of submitting a request for specialists, the virtual agent had compiled and emailed a list of hundreds of doctors in my network near me. In addition, they answered all my questions about the process, the required paperwork, and how much assistance they provide. And, you won’t have the hassle of having to backtrack and spend hours on the phone.
2. Online and Telehealth Services
Another option for affordable mental health care is through online and telehealth services. As the demand continues to grow, many low-cost sites and local providers are expanding their service options.
While I was living overseas, I hit a low point in my life. I was in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and living in a culture that didn’t talk about mental health. Moreover, I was thousands of miles from friends and family.
Since I couldn’t communicate with locals, my only option was to go online. So, a friend recommended Better Help which connected me with someone who probably saved my life. I got matched with a licensed professional right away and had the convenience of choosing when and how we met. It was way cheaper than other providers. And, it also offered discounts when I was between jobs and sent promotions for special rates to make it even more affordable.
3. Sliding Scale Clinics
If you have exhausted your resources and have no other option but to pay out of pocket, you aren’t out of luck yet. Some clinics will work with you. These facilities will offer their professional services on a sliding scale based on what you can pay. They take into account your income and personal situation and give you some flexibility with your finances.
4. Community Programs
However, if paying for services isn’t an option, there are also community outreach programs that provide free mental health services. You can ask around or go online to see what free services may be available for you. This site is a great place to find National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliates near you.
You can also check with local teaching hospitals, universities, churches, and shelters to see who they work with in the community. Several national organizations like the YMCA, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Services, and the VA also offer mental health services. However, it may rely more on support groups, students, and counselors who volunteer their time to help those in need.
Lastly, don’t overlook the free resources that are out there. I know several friends and family members who found support groups through their church or community centers. And, there are also online support groups specific to what you are going through. When facing a mental health crisis, there are also helplines and hotlines to get you through.
You can also find a lot of great content from books, journals, podcasts, and apps to learn about mental health. They can provide you with coping strategies, guided meditation techniques, and tips to help you manage your mental health.
Taking Control of Your Mental Health Care
The weight of mental health issues can become crushing at times. But, it takes strength to ask for help. While it can be difficult to open up to people, I was surprised by the outpouring of support I received once I did. We all struggle with our mental health at times, and there is no shame in that. However, it’s up to you to get the help you need. And with the growing popularity of telehealth services, it’s easier than ever before to find the support your need.
Remember, taking the first step is always the hardest. But, there will be people and resources to point you in the right direction and support you on your way to better mental health.
What are your experiences with the costs of mental health care? Please share with us in the comments below!
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.