As the number of people diagnosed with mental health problems continues to rise, the need for affordable medical services to treat them becomes increasingly crucial. Shockingly, approximately 56 percent of American adults with a mental illness do not receive the treatment they require. The lack of proper treatment among teens is also alarming, with the CDC reporting a skyrocketing teen suicide rate. But why aren’t people getting the help they need? The answer is multifaceted. On one hand, there is the persistent stigma surrounding mental illness, which deters people from seeking care. On the other hand, our healthcare system doesn’t comprehensively address mental health in the same way it does physical health. For example, there is no insurance-covered annual mental health exam. Furthermore, therapists who accept insurance often face difficulties in being reimbursed by providers. However, there are several ways to access affordable mental health care without straining your finances.
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Look for In-Network Providers: Federally Qualified Health Centers
Start your search for mental health services by checking your health plan’s website if you have insurance. Health plans may have in-house mental health benefits or outsource them to specific providers. The website will specify the covered mental health care providers, associated costs, and benefit limitations. Thanks to the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenic Addiction Equity and Mental Health Parity Act (MHPAEA), health plans are required to offer comparable coverage for mental and physical health care. Therefore, the financial requirements and treatment limitations should not differ. If you don’t have insurance, reach out to local social service agencies, student health centers (if you’re a student), or federally qualified health centers. Sonya Veytsman, LCWS, suggests contacting the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) helpline at 741741 for free 24/7 assistance. In non-emergency situations, avoid visiting the ER, as it is not designed to improve mental health long-term and can be costly.
Seek Out Private Therapists on a Sliding Scale
If you come across private therapists who are accepting new clients but don’t accept insurance, don’t be discouraged by their high hourly rates. Many private therapists are willing to adjust their rates based on your financial resources. They usually inquire about how much you can afford and do their best to accommodate your needs. Dr. Laura Chackes, founder of The Center for Mindfulness & CBT, shares that therapists often drop their rates from $120 to around $60 per session. Some even have interns who can see patients for rates as low as $10 to $50 per hour. Kailee Place, a private practice LPC at Turning Tides Therapeutic Solutions, also believes in working with clients on their financial needs to ensure they receive the care they deserve.
Explore Medicaid for Free Therapy
For individuals without insurance coverage, it is worth checking if you qualify for Medicaid based on your income. If you have Medicaid, you should be able to access mental health care for free. Dr. Jesse Matthews, a licensed psychologist, recommends finding providers who accept Medicaid in clinics, community mental health centers, or university-affiliated training sites for graduate students.
Consider Local Training Institutes and University Hospitals
Contact your local psychoanalytic training institute to inquire about free therapy options. These institutes may require patients to commit to psychoanalytic therapy sessions multiple times a week for a year or two in exchange for free treatment. You can also reach out to the nearest university hospital that offers training programs for interns and residents. These hospitals often have a psychiatry department and an outpatient psychology program that offers sliding-scale psychotherapy at a low cost. Additionally, some state-funded and private nonprofit agencies provide high-quality psychotherapy on a sliding scale based on a person’s previous income tax returns.
Check Out the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a nonprofit organization that connects low- and middle-income individuals and families with affordable mental health services. Open Path partners with therapists who offer rates ranging from $30 to $50 per hour. This collective aims to make mental health more accessible and supports therapists who provide their services at affordable rates. By choosing Open Path, you can receive the care you need without breaking the bank.
Don’t Give Up: Resources Are Available, Even on Your Smartphone
Finding a mental health provider may take time and effort, but it is well worth the search. In the meantime, you can explore remote mental health options that are offered by major health systems online. These services, including telemedicine, have experienced significant growth and provide valuable resources. Contact your local hospital system to inquire about these services. If you require immediate mental health services, visit a community mental health clinic, which often offers low-cost treatment through interns or with the support of funding from organizations like United Way. In cases of extreme distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential help, available 24/7.
Affordable mental health services are within reach, and it’s important not to give up. By exploring various options such as in-network providers, private therapists on a sliding scale, Medicaid, local training institutes, university hospitals, and organizations like the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, you can find the care you need while staying within your financial means. Remember, your mental health is a priority, and there are resources available to support you on your journey towards well-being.
More Mental Health Help
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