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Mental health services: How to get treatment if you can&x27t afford it

As the number of people diagnosed with mental health problems, such as depression, reaches new highs, so does the need for medical services to treat them. approximately 56 percent of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. There’s also evidence of a serious lack of treatment among teens, with the CDC reporting that the teen suicide rate is skyrocketing.

Why don’t people get the help they need? The answer is complicated on the one hand, there’s the persistent stigma around mental illness that can keep people from seeking care (a problem that campaigns like mental health awareness month aim to solve), but there’s also the fact that our health care system has yet to treat mental health comprehensively. as it does with physical health. There’s no such thing as an insurance-covered annual mental health exam, for example, and therapists who accept insurance often work twice as hard just to be reimbursed by providers.

Reading: Where to go for mental health without insurance

After going through the doorbell trying to not only find a therapist who accepts my insurance, but is also accepting new clients, I almost gave up on my personal search for affordable services. Luckily, after talking to various experts in the field, I’ve learned that there are several ways to get the care I need without breaking the bank in the process.

look in-network first: if you don’t have care, go to federally qualified health centers

“People with health insurance should start their wellness journey on their health plan’s website. Health plans may manage their mental health benefits in-house or outsource them to a provider. The health plan or The provider will specify the mental health care providers that are covered, the associated costs, and benefit limitations,” says Dr. adam c. Powell, president of the payer+provider union. “In many cases, health plans are required to offer comparable coverage for mental and physical health care coverage under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenic Addiction Equity and Mental Health Parity Act (MHPAEA). When applicable mhpaea, financial requirements, quantitative treatment limitations, and non-quantitative treatment limitations applied to mental health benefits may not differ from those that apply to physical health benefits.”

If you can’t get insurance, powell adds, you can seek help from a local social service agency, a student health center (if you’re a student), or a federally qualified health center (also known as a state-of-the-art care center). community-based medical services that are funded by the government). ).

sonya veytsman, lcsw, suggests contacting the national alliance on mental health (nami). “they have a helpline that offers free help 24/7. all you have to do is text nami to 741741.”

If possible, avoid visiting the ER, not only because you’ll likely have a huge bill to pay, but because the ER, in Powell’s opinion, “isn’t designed to work with people to improve their mental health.” over time”. it should only be sought in an emergency department in an urgent crisis.”

private therapists will often work on a sliding scale, as low as $10 per hour

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I recently found some therapists who take new clients but don’t insure. I was put off by their high hourly rates and didn’t push, but I will now because they will often adjust their rates to match your financial resources.

“[Often] we just ask the patient how much they can afford and do everything we can to make it work,” says dr. Laura Chackes, Founder of The Center for Mindfulness & cbt in st. Louis, Missouri. “Most of our therapists who do a sliding scale will drop from $120 to around $60 per session. I will bring an intern this fall who will be able to see patients at an even lower rate ranging from $10 to $50 per hour.”

kailee place, a private practice lpc turning tides therapeutic solutions adds that she doesn’t accept insurance, but “makes room for lower cost sessions within my practice.” I’m a firm believer that people should get the care they want to get, so if I seem like the best fit for someone, I’m [usually] 100% willing to work with them on their financial needs.”

see if you are eligible for medicaid for free therapy

If you don’t have insurance coverage, check to see if you qualify for Medicaid (your income is the determining factor).

“if a person doesn’t have commercial insurance but has medical assistance (medicaid), then they need to find someone who is in their network,” says dr. jesse matthews, licensed psychologist.

“Most providers who accept Medicaid work in clinics or community mental health centers. sometimes these are affiliated with universities and are used as training sites for graduate students. if a person has medicaid, they should be able to access mental health care for free.”

Local training institutes can offer free sessions for up to two years

dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist, suggests contacting your local psychoanalytic training institute.

“They typically require the patient to commit to psychoanalytic therapy sessions three to five times a week for a period of at least a year or two in exchange for free therapy,” he tells nbc news better. “The patient is assured of receiving treatment from the same uniquely qualified M.D. who is receiving advanced specific training and supervision in intensive long-term treatment.”

university hospitals are often eager to put students to work for a low fee, as are some nonprofits

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“Another alternative is to contact the nearest university hospital that offers training programs for interns and residents,” adds Dr. Walfish “Most qualified training hospitals have a psychiatry department and an outpatient psychology program that offers sliding-scale psychotherapy at low cost. finally, there are several state-funded and private nonprofit agencies that offer very good quality psychotherapy on a sliding scale with fees set based on a person’s previous income tax returns.”

check out the open road 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 and education. Many therapists are working with them to help inform and care for those in need, including Vinodha Joly, LMFT.

joly says she was happy to find a nonprofit that was aligned with her own personal values. “My experience with Open Path has been positive from the start, as their mission is clearly to make mental health more affordable, without exploiting therapists who are willing to offer their services,” explains Joly. open path connects patients with mental health professionals at rates ranging from $30 to $50 per hour.

don’t give up: the resources are available, possibly on your smartphone

Experts agree that it may take some time and effort to find a mental health provider, but it’s likely worth your search. In the meantime, you may want to turn to your smartphone.

“Remote mental health in all its forms has become a great resource and there are great resources online that are being offered by the big health systems,” says harry nelson, managing partner of nelson hardiman, director of the association of behavioral health providers and partners. Author of “From Obamacare to Trumpcare: Why You Should Care.” “The challenge there is that you have to be licensed in the state where the patient lives, but with that said, we’ve seen burgeoning growth in all mental health treatment by telemedicine and I expect it to grow exponentially.” contact your local hospital system to ask if they offer these services.

if it hurts a lot, go to a clinic and/or ask for help

If you desperately need immediate mental health services, visit a community mental health clinic. as matthews points out, “they often offer low-cost treatment by using interns or because they receive matching funds from places like united way.”

You should also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talk if you are in danger of self-harm. it’s free, open 24/7 and totally confidential.

more mental health help

  • how ‘turning off my thoughts’ helped me recover from debilitating anxiety
  • 7 steps to overcome a panic attack
  • how to worry better
  • Want more tips like these? nbc news better is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on facebook, twitter and instagram.

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