The Availability and Affordability of Mental Healthcare in America
A lot of people are talking about the importance mental healthcare right now, but are those who need help actually able to get it? One in five adults (43.8 million Americans) experience some form of mental illness, yet only 41% of them have received treatment over the past year
Some are simply choosing not to seek professional help. You generally can’t force a person to attend counseling or visit a mental hospital.
But for many people of these people, the issue isn’t that they don’t want to get help; it’s that they’re not sure they can afford to.
The Cost of Counseling and Mental Care
When it comes to providing coverage for mental health, insurance has come a long way in recent years. Most insurance plans have coverage for mental care built in. Of course, this is after premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc.
Still, there are some gaps.
For example, those relying on Medicaid won’t have long-term stays in psychiatric or mental hospitals covered. Considering that mental disorders are twice as common among those with low income, this is problematic.
As for those without insurance, and even those with base-level insurance plans, they’ll find themselves having to pay out of pocket for general counseling, hospital visits, and prescriptions.
Even then, they may have trouble finding the help they need.
photo by Vladimir Solomyani
Under-Equipped and Underfunded
The government spends around $150 billion in mental health funding. While that may sound like a reasonable amount of money, they don’t put requirements on who is served or how it’s used.
Much of this funding is put towards general wellness programs, such as mindfulness training and yoga classes. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these types of activities, but they’re not doing much for those with more severe mental health issues.
These people often have to wait before they can get help. In Chicago, someone seeking a specialist may have to wait a year or more. For Medicaid recipients, the wait can be even longer. There’s a shortage of both mental health professionals and facilities, and the deficit is poised to increase.
According to a study by the US Health Resources & Services Administration, we need 10,000 professionals added to each of the seven mental healthcare branches by 2025 to meet the estimated demand. Additionally, the number of psychiatric beds available emergency psychiatric needs would need to triple.
Alternatively, some studies have shown that the high demand for (and therefore, the great shortage of) psychiatric beds is due to federal regulations and restrictions on how care is provided. With changes in regulations, alternatives to hospitalization may be provided, freeing up staff and space needs, while meeting the needs of more people at a faster rate.
Do you need help now?
Mental health and the lack of proper treatment is taking a toll on this country. Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
The longer you wait to treat a mental illness, the worse it can become. Issues such as depression and anxiety actually change your brain overtime, making recovery more difficult.
Get the help you need now. If you’re looking for a Christian counselor or psychologist, use Torrch. Torrch makes it easy to find help right in your area. In addition to working with insurance providers, many counselors offer flexible payment options to ensure you get the help you need.
Create a free profile today and take the first step towards a healthier, happier future.