When you have to bear with nagging mental health issues, finding a suitable therapist, in the best of circumstances, is quite a task. Additionally, if your health care provider charges you as much as $300 per session, in some cities, it means mental health treatment is only for the privileged and not for those who have found the courage to seek help but don’t have the resources to pay for it.
Again a lot of behavioral health providers, that are practicing privately, do not accept insurance as the reimbursement rate is almost zero. Without insurance, people of low income communities are least likely to get any benefits or help to access mental health treatment.
Keeping these barriers and restrictions in mind, here are some ways on finding mental therapy that won’t rack up the bills which only lead to aggravating stress.
Check your health plans
If you have taken health insurance, check carefully to see what it covers, especially mental health benefits at the same level as other forms of care. About 19% of the teens in USA, for instance, have health insurance that does not cover emotional or mental issues.
Unfortunately, many insurance companies haven’t increased the rates for health care providers for the last many years, which has resulted in leading mental health professionals opting out of these plans.
To ensure you get a therapist of your choice, visit the website of the company to check the online directory of the professionals on their panel. Again, some of the websites may not be updated, so check with the therapist beforehand when you schedule an appointment if your insurance will be accepted.
Join a support group
Most mental health issues need ongoing support which can be best provided by connecting with a support group where the members face problems similar to yours. In this way they can talk to each other and offer sympathy and support. Additionally, some support groups are free to join, while some may charge a minimal amount.
Since you will be spending maximum time with your support group, make sure you join one which fits your needs. You can do this by attending some meetings of different groups till you find the one that suits you best.
Support groups could be of different types. A Mutual Support Group is where members share stories of the issues plaguing them such as trauma, domestic violence etc. Other option is Group Therapy, where trained therapists provide treatment to a group of people suffering from the same mental problem. Sometimes you need to pay a fee for this treatment, which is usually covered by most insurance companies.
If you cannot afford a reliable therapist in your area, consider scheduling a meeting with one through an online therapy app. These apps provide a convenient way of connecting with a therapist from your home, office or any place you wish. Also, this feature is very useful for those who want to save on transportation and also for stay-at-home parents and busy professionals.
According to professionals, online therapy is just as effective as in-person care and costs much less. Moreover, mental health apps apart from being affordable useful tools to improve well-being, many like MindShift and What’s Up, are free to download, which make them a good option if your budget is tight
Just keep two things in mind. One, make sure the platform you choose is reliable and meets the strict standards for the security and the privacy of the patient. Two, while these apps have their uses, they are no substitute for treating an acute mental health condition.
Community mental health care clinics
If your school or workplace has no facility for free counseling, try reaching out to the mental health clinic in your area. Since they are government funded, they offer mental health care at a steeply discounted cost or even free.
These community mental health clinics offer a range of treatment of issues ranging from family counseling, substance abuse and medication. Their staff includes psychologists and psychiatrists that are well qualified to tackle disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression etc.
You can find a community mental health clinic in several ways, by asking your primary care physician, calling the concerned helpline number or by contacting your state department of public and community health. Certain therapists train through independent institutions, which often provide treatment free of cost to people with limited means.
Choose trainee therapists
A great way to avail of mental health treatment at a discounted rate is to work with an intern who is learning the job. This will allow you the luxury of not only meeting a trainee for treatment at low cost, but also working with a fully qualified therapist who is teaching the trainee the ropes.
When the new therapist gets to work with a patient to enhance his skills, there are chances you won’t have to pay anything at all. You can approach the outpatient psychiatry department of a teaching hospital to gather information on this regard or even check if they offer treatment on a sliding scale.
To find a list of such hospitals in your area which offer this kind of service, contact the department of psychiatry in each of them. If you have trouble finding this department, try looking under behavioral and mental health.
A hotline or chat line is perfect for those who wish to seek mental health care in an emergency, like a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence right away. In such a crisis situation, your best option is to dial the crisis helpline number where trained professionals will provide instant service 24×7 and that too at no cost.
For example, the suicide prevention helpline works by hearing you out and then figuring out the best way to provide support and solve your problems. They can help even further by guiding you to the right mental health service in your area. All calls to such numbers are free and completely confidential.
The domestic violence helpline can be of assistance even if you have personally not experienced any physical harm. You can even take help by calling on behalf of another family member or a friend or if you fear you yourself might be suffering from abusive tendencies.
Please keep in mind not to deal with a problem on your own, even if your budget is limited. Also, there are little things you can do on your own to uplift your mood like, exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature.