6 Tips For People Who Can't Afford Mental Health Care
With the subject of health care, it's the pervasive elephant in the room: "I don't have insurance, but I need health care." Or maybe someone does have insurance and the issue is not being able to afford the typical high costs associated with health care.
Unfortunately, this conundrum also extends to mental health services. According to Mental Health America, 43 percent of people with mental health problems are more likely to have no insurance or to be on public insurance. And nearly 60 percent of adults struggling with a mental illness in 2017 did not receive treatment in the previous year.
The biggest barrier for these individuals? It's simple. They aren't able to pay for treatment, due to either high costs or inadequate insurance coverage.
However, there is a silver lining. For those individuals struggling with a mental illness who may not be able to pay for the higher costs associated with health care, there are options to find affordable — and sometimes free — counseling and other mental health care services. And it's actually "easier than you think," according to Alice Sanderlin, LPC-MHSP.
Instead of procrastinating or winding up in debt over pricey medical bills, try these six tips to procure affordable mental health care services.
When looking for a place to start for help, making a call can make all the difference. There are free hotlines spanning the mental health-related areas of depression, schizophrenia, suicide prevention, anxiety, and more. As a matter of fact, the National Alliance of Mental Illness has curated a listing of 25 hotline resources. And a Google search will yield even more results.
2. Employee Assistance Programs
Patients who are currently employed should inquire with their employer regarding Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services. An EAP is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee's performance. "These EAP services are often low cost or no cost for those covered by such programs," says Tennessee-based Frances Lea Perkins, LPC/MHSP. "Patients can also access a list of mental health providers in the community who are in-network with their insurance who can sometimes be seen for the cost of an office visit copay. Many counseling centers have staff who may offer sliding scale fees for those who qualify and are happy to discuss these options with potential patients."
3. Free Clinics & Community Mental Health Centers
Free mental health clinics are a viable option for those who do not have health insurance. You can find a free clinic in your area via the Partnership for Prescription Assitance website or through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. The NAMI can also provide information on where to find treatment or mental health care in your area. You may call them toll-free at 1-800-950-NAMI.
Additionally, community mental health centers are potential resources that provide free or low-cost therapy options and services. You can find a center through the Department of Human Services at your state's government website. And private nonprofit organizations such as the YMCA offers low-cost/sliding scale behavioral health and family services for children and adults.
4. Find A Doctor … Online
Telehealth — the marriage of telecommunications technology and health care — is emerging as a legitimate option for someone seeking help with a mental illness, and it could save you a bundle of money. Telehealth doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment and even prescribe medication, if necessary. Apps such as Teladoc allows you to browse health care professionals at a fraction of the cost of a trip to the clinic. There's even therapy via text message available through portals such as Talkspace. Patients can also try group therapy via NAMI AIR, a free app that connects you with a community of people living with mental health conditions and their caregivers.
5. Seek Spiritual Advisors Or Community Leaders
For some seeking mental health care, religion and spirituality can play a big part in the healing process. If you're involved with an organized religious group, it's possible to find the help you need within your community circle. Inquire with your church about free support groups or retreats where you can connect with others in your situation. And try a conversation with your pastor or other leaders in the community who might offer free counseling.
If you're reading this, chances are you are a musician or work in the music community. Last but certainly not least there is MusiCares. MusiCares is a safety net for musicians, providing a range of programs and services for music people, including mental health assistance and referrals. If you are part of the music community and you require assistance for a mental health-related issue, contact MusiCares toll-free at 1.800.687.4227 (West), 1.877.626.2748 (South) or 1.877.303.6962 (East).