How Are We Supposed to Afford Mental Health Treatment?
Do you know how to afford mental health treatment? Recently a friend of mine became overwhelmed by her bills for mental health treatment. Desperate for money, she created a GoFundMe page. I was disturbed by this because no one should have to create a crowdfunding page to get treatment for mental illness. The sad thing is, she's not the only person I know who has done this. It made me think about how to afford mental health treatment.
Why People Can't Afford Mental Health Treatment
There are many reasons why people can't afford mental health treatment. For example, they may not have insurance. I lost my life savings after I was hospitalized for 10 days without insurance. And when I finally went on Medicare for disability, I found I couldn't afford the copay. This lead to a vicious cycle--my mental health provider cut back on treatment because I couldn't pay for it, which caused me to need more treatment, which I only got in an emergency setting, which led to further financial hardship.
We as consumers need to advocate for parity. We should push for insurance to cover mental health the same way it covers physical health. There should not be a cap on mental health benefits if there is no similar cap on physical health benefits. There should be no difference between inpatient and outpatient services. People should not be forced to choose between food and medication, or rent and medication. We need mental health care reform and we need it three weeks ago.
No one should have to set up a GoFundMe page to get mental health treatment, just as how no one should have to set up a GoFundMe page for physical health treatment so they don't die.
Check for a Sliding Scale to Afford Mental Health Treatment
Many community mental health centers have a sliding scale for treatment. A sliding scale means they look at your income and decide how much you can pay. This is great for people with no insurance. However, having insurance can complicate this. For example, when I was uninsured, I paid $10 a session. When I got Medicare disability, the treatment facility was required by federal law to charge me more--something like $45.77. I could not afford this, so I cut back on treatment.
Going on Medicaid disability made mental health treatment affordable again--what Medicare doesn't cover, Medicaid disability usually does. This has helped me to get the services I need. There is a catch, however--I am limited in what I can make. If I make too much money, I lose my Medicaid. This basically guarantees I will live in poverty short of a miracle. We need to reform this. No one should have to worry about how to get mental health treatment and still make ends meet.
Other Resources to Help Afford Mental Health Treatment
There are other free or low-cost resources available. They include:
- Support groups
- Employee-assistance plans
- Psychology departments at local universities
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Mental Health America (MHA)
- Mental health apps such as ACT Coach and Breathe2Relax available for your cell phone
- Houses of worship
- Websites such as HealthyPlace (Where to Find Mental Health Services in Your Area)
There are many options for affordable mental health treatment, ranging from the traditional self-help books, group therapy, to paying next to nothing on a sliding scale. Do whatever works for you. You're worth it. You're a human being who deserves the best help a therapist can offer. Don't give up.
Oberg, B. (2016, May 30). How Are We Supposed to Afford Mental Health Treatment?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2016/05/how-to-afford-mental-health-treatment
Author: Becky Oberg
I agree with John, I myself hold the view that mental health treatment surely can be best dealt with hanging out with friends or participating in a dedicated social support platform where other people are also affected by chronic conditions and need equal support as you want. I would like to share some of these platforms so that it can be taken as a supplement to medical treatment www.reachout.life. I hope the fighters to find here the support, strength and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Not sure where medicine is going in the future. I have reduced my Klonopin where just two tablets a week. I have lowered the Seraquel. Small amounts still makes me sleep good. My insurance ran out so I pay for these myself. Hope to be completely off someday and totally happy and non paranoid. If you need help, then try the best you can. A good friend can go a long ways. So can walks in the park and keeping a diary. Good luck to all.