Mental health is a growing issue, which makes affordable mental health care more of a necessity. However, due to several factors, finding a therapist, especially a good therapist, is really difficult. Lack of financial aid, the stigma around mental health, and a broken healthcare system prevent people who need mental health treatment from getting access to it. How can you find affordable mental health care?
Here’s how you can get therapy on a budget:
- Look for therapists who offer a sliding scale option.
- Make use of non-profits like Rise Above The Disorder.
- Look for Community Mental Health Centers near you.
- If you are a student, make use of student mental health services or school counselors.
- Find a mental health professional online using PsychologyToday, BetterHelp or TalkSpace.
- Find support groups near you.
- Seek peer-coaching. Please remember that coaching is not a substitute for therapy.
In this article, we will go over some of the mental health resources available to us. It will be especially useful to you if you do not have insurance, or cannot afford it. Affordable mental health care should not be a privilege. It needs to be a necessity.
When to Look for Affordable Mental Health Care
You do not need to be in terrible shape to seek help. You should ask for an evaluation if you feel like you are suffering or struggling and cannot do the things you should do. Psychiatry looks at the impairment of function. If you are going through distress that impairs your everyday functioning, seeking assistance from mental health services can be very beneficial.
Seeing a therapist does not have to be about treating illness. It is about getting yourself checked out. You can use the following criteria to assess whether you can benefit from some form of help:
- Brain fog and confused thinking
- Prolonged feelings of sadness or irritability
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries, and anxieties
- Self-isolation and social withdrawal
- Significant changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Strange thoughts (delusions)
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
- Growing inability to cope with day-to-day problems and activities
- Suicidal thoughts
- Thoughts about hurting yourself or others
- Unexplained physical ailments
- Substance use
(Source: Mental Health America)
I Am Resistant to Getting Therapy. What Do I Do?
The answer to that question lies in the exploration of why you are resistant. There could be several reasons:
- You don’t think there’s anything wrong with you.
- You don’t think it’s going to help because you’re hopeless.
- You don’t think it’s going to work.
- You don’t like the label of needing therapy.
- You don’t want to get prescribed medication.
- You don’t want to feel dependant on something for the rest of your life.
- You want to solve your issues on your own.
- You don’t have the financial resources (We have a section on navigating insurance and getting aid in this article.)
Affordable Mental Health Care Grouped by Type of Issue
Depression, Anxiety or Personality Disorders
Depression and anxiety are common mood disorders, and there are quite a few resources that you can use.
- Try simple google searches such as “psychiatrists near me” or “therapists in my location.” More often than not, you will find a provider near you (although this is highly dependant on your country of residence).
- If you are in the US, you can call up your insurance and ask for a reference for a mental health provider.
- Websites such as PsychologyToday, BetterHelp and TalkSpace are great options if you want to connect with a licensed professional online.
- If you need financial aid to get therapy, then Rise Above the Disorder (RAD) is an excellent choice. RAD is a non-profit dedicated to making mental health care accessible to everyone. You can use their resources here.
Substance Abuse and Addiction
According to the World Health Organization, substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.
- If you believe you suffer from substance abuse, then please contact your mental health provider. They will be able to guide you towards taking the next step. If you do not have a mental health provider, you can also contact your General Physician, who will be able to put you in touch with the necessary resources.
- Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are incredibly useful in helping people cope with and recover from addictions. Try searching for support groups near you.
Unhappiness, Motivation, and Lack of Life Purpose
Many people do not seek mental health care for these problems, and that needs to change. Sadness is different from depression, and we firmly believe that you do not have to suffer just because you don’t have clinical depression.
- Consult your mental health care provider and get an assessment. It will help you learn whether you meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis. If you do, please seek professional mental health treatment.
- Support groups and peer coaching are excellent mental health resources that can be instrumental in helping you through a lack of motivation and life purpose. Healthy Gamer has developed a coaching program to tackle the problems with our current mental health system. We provide effective, targeted help for gamers’ who struggle with unique issues such as motivation, life purpose, and more. Click here to learn more.
- If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact your emergency services. Call 911 if you are in the US, otherwise, call your country’s emergency number — click here for a complete list. Suicidality is an emergency, and we should treat it like one.
- You can also go to your nearest emergency room and ask to see someone.
- If you are in the US, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can find a list of suicide prevention hotlines by country here.
How to Look For Affordable Mental Health Care
When you want to look for a therapist in the United States, the first question that arises is whether you have insurance or not.
If You Have Insurance
- If you have any kind of doctor, you can ask them to refer you for a mental health evaluation.
- On the other hand, if you have insurance, you can contact your insurance and ask them to give you a list of people in your area who provide therapy. You can even do this online since a lot of insurance providers have an online portal.
- If you find a provider that takes your insurance, excellent! Your insurance will cover most of the expenses. You may have to pay a $15 – $50 co-pay depending on your provider’s particulars.
Websites like PsychologyToday and ZenCare allow you to search for therapists in your area. You can look at their profile and what they specialize in and pick a therapist based on your needs. Sometimes, you can even sort them based on whether or not they take a particular insurance.
If You Don’t Have Insurance
Even if you don’t have insurance, you have a few options when it comes to finding the right mental health resources.
- You can put in your location into Google and search for “Community Mental Health Centers.” These provide services for people who can’t otherwise afford them. Since the state government or federal government typically funds these centers, they can get compensated for seeing you, even if you do not have insurance. As a result, they can often provide free care.
- Community Mental Health Centers can also help you get insurance. They can walk you through the process of getting insurance that may not cost you anything.
- Even if you don’t have insurance, you can ask mental health providers if they have any free care slots. Many providers joined the profession to help people, and sometimes they are okay with taking people who cannot pay. Therefore, most providers tend to have a few slots open for people at reduced fees or no fees. Some providers offer sliding scales, which means that they will modify their rates to be affordable for you.
- As mentioned above, Rise Above the Disorder (RAD) is a brilliant non-profit that is committed to delivering mental health services to our community despite people’s inability to pay.
- If you are a university student, you might have a student mental health clinic or university health services that can support you. If you are a high school student, you might be able to turn to a school counselor.
Finding the Right Fit With A Therapist
Finding the right mental health provider can be a process. Here are some ways you can try out to find a therapist who fits with you.
How Do You Know if a Therapist is the Right Fit For You?
The effectiveness of therapy depends a lot on how well you and your therapist fit with each other. They should be able to understand you, and you should feel listened to and respected by them. An easy way to tell if a therapist is right for you is by asking yourself the following question: Do you feel that you can come back and talk to this person once a week for the next couple of months?
It is not about their background, their degree, or where they trained. It is about whether you can sit and talk with this person once a week for 3-6 months.
Trying Out Different Therapists
If you have the resources and the availability, you can schedule three appointments with three different people, about two weeks apart. Moreover, if you don’t like the first person, you can see the second person, and if you don’t want them either, you can see the third. If you prefer the first person, you can cancel the rest of the appointments, and so on.
Many people judge therapy as a whole, based on one particular therapist. However, that is not the right approach. You cannot judge one all restaurants based on your experience at one, or all haircuts based on one. Similarly, therapy is also a unique experience based on your fit with a particular therapist.
55% of psychiatrists are over the age of 55. As a result, many young people suffering from mental health problems have a tough time finding a person that relates to them. Your mental health professionals may not have experience in the issues and conditions that you need help with.
If you think that you feel that your therapist does not understand you, then that is okay. Do not give up on therapy because one person was not able to help you. Try looking for someone younger because they are more likely to be experienced with tackling the issues you are going through.
Are Certain Kinds of Therapy Better for me Than Others?
The short answer is that you should try a couple of things and see for yourself. However, to give you an idea of what to expect, we have laid out the differences between two of the broader kinds of therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This is a therapy that is quite rigorous and scientific. It helps you understand the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You will need to do a lot of exercises between your sessions. CBT is more active and consists of more than just talking about your feelings.
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: This branch of therapy involves talking about your feelings. It is more free-form, which means that it can sometimes take longer to get to the root of your issues.
The question is whether you want something structured or something that is more free-flowing.
For example, if you want that in 16 weeks, your social anxiety should be better to the point where you can go out and engage with people without being anxious all the time, then CBT will be a good fit for you. CBT is result-focused and focuses on outcomes.
However, if you are willing to invest more time investigating the roots of your problems and see results a bit more slowly, then the psychodynamic approach might be better for you. Psychodynamic therapy aims to help you understand yourself.
Common Problems That You Can Face in Therapy
- If you have been in therapy for a long time (more than 3-6 months) and do not think it is helping or working, consider finding another therapist.
- Sometimes, it can be hard to see the change that you’ve gone through in therapy. For example, if you start exercising, you may not see a change in the mirror every day, but you might see a massive difference from the person you were five years ago.
- You might feel like there are some things that you cannot say to your therapist. However, that is probably the only space where you can say exactly how you feel. You can even go into their office for the first time, sit down, and tell them that you don’t want to be there. Your therapist will probably like that because they will see that you are honest with them. It is much easier to work with somebody honest because it is easier to address concerns and solve problems.
- You might feel like you don’t have a direction in therapy. In that case, bring up this concern with your therapist. It will tell them what you do and do no respond to. It will help them re-orient your plan or inform and assure you about how it is supposed to work.
Mental illness is real, and it is affecting a large part of the population. It is insidious because mental health awareness is lacking, and as a result, people do not seek mental health care when they fit the criteria for illness. Moreover, due to systematic barriers, they are sometimes unable to get help when they need it. However, there is hope, as several mental health organizations are stepping in to provide financial aid when needed and make mental health accessible to all.