Tips for Finding Affordable Mental Healthcare
Despite pushes for visibility and advocacy for better care in recent years, mental health in the U.S. doesn’t appear to be improving. Services provided by insurance companies are slow to catch up, premiums are high, and the processes for applying for disability are still quite obtuse.
While waiting for the industry to catch up, it can be difficult to find the care that you need for an affordable price. Many people choose to let their mental illness go untreated rather than create additional financial stress in their lives. There are resources in some communities that can help people access mental health services without the financial burdens, and technological tools are giving people options to manage their illnesses in ways that work for them.
Low Cost and Sliding Scale Clinics
Many communities do have clinics that serve low-income families. There are a few different types of low-cost healthcare clinics:
- Sliding scale clinics are income based. Costs for services and prescriptions will change depending on a patient’s income. So while these clinics aren’t free, they’re likely to be much more affordable, especially if you’re uninsured.
- Community/free clinics: Free clinics, low-cost clinics, and community clinics are generally nonprofit organizations that rely on volunteer workers. They are likely to have limited access to prescriptions but will be able to provide services at low costs.
There are some tools which you can use to locate these types of clinics:
- Search your state website for other localized resources
What the Future of Mental Health Care Looks Like
The news isn’t all bad. There are some reasons to be optimistic about the state of mental health care in the US. Mental health has increasingly become part of the national conversation about health, and it’s becoming much easier to locate information and resources that allow people to develop ways to manage their conditions.
Additional resources are appearing in many communities as more people train in mental health and counseling, such as training clinics found all over the US on university campuses. These clinics offer free or reduced rate services as they’re paid for by the school and staffed by students supervised by trained professionals.
Other community groups have added mental health services to their programming, such as the YMCA. Community organizations and support groups have realized that mental health is connected to community health, and so you may find more resources than expected in local nonprofits and community centers.
The Role of Technology in Mental Health
Technology has offered people a host of new ways to manage their own mental health, find support, and connect with people who experience similar challenges.
Despite the consistent barrage of warnings about how terrible social media is for mental health, the truth is quite the opposite. Many people, especially young people, who struggle with mental health use social media to create a space of support, management, and healing for themselves and for each other. Social media has allowed impromptu communities and support groups to appear, where people from geographically diverse locations can talk to one other about common challenges and find support outside of traditional health care environments.
Mobile technology has a great deal of potential to be useful to healthcare providers and for users. Apps designed for health tracking have already made a big splash, and can be very helpful for people who need a little help with health and mental health maintenance throughout the day. Exercise and diet trackers can assist with keeping preventative measures and general quality of life on track, and can help people to balance their activities. Exercise, in particular, is a more complex prospect for mental health wellness than many people realize, as studies show that high intensity and medium intensity exercise have very different mood effects.
Many companies have also started to provide “telemedicine” services where you can access a healthcare professional without having to travel. Unfortunately, all this innovation has resulted in some serious health information privacy concerns if you’re accessing healthcare using mobile.
Conclusion: The System is Difficult to Navigate, but Hope Isn’t Lost
Accessing healthcare shouldn’t be such a difficult issue. Especially for people who struggle with mental health, the additional stress of just seeking help can be legitimately damaging, not to mention costly. Before you give up, however, look into the resources we’ve covered. Look into local nonprofits, university training clinics, state services and providers with mobile applications.