There are many issues and inconveniences that people have to deal with daily in their life, but there is one specific problem that has bothered me for some time. Sometimes it gets hard to handle all the difficulties and responsibilities, especially in recent years when society has experienced too much in too little time. The appearance of COVID-19, mass shootings, the war in the middle of Europe, and many other situations negatively affect a person’s mental state. I have experienced several tough periods when I strongly felt that I could use consistent psychological help, but it happened to be not as simple as I thought.
Access to Mental Health Services
Finding a suitable specialist is already a struggle, but the main problem is to afford the services since they are expensive and not all covered by insurance. I have observed similar issues in my inner circle regarding close friends and acquaintances who experience difficulties accessing psychological healthcare. Psychological help should be recognized as important as physical and affordable t the majority of the population. Therefore, the paper aims to analyze the problem from a personal example and, with the support of secondary sources, suggest a solution to make certified mental health more affordable.
One of the primary reasons some people face problems with turning to professionals is the stigma around this topic. Although nowadays, society is much more tolerant and understanding of the subject, there is still a lack of awareness about the different aspects of psychological health. Often, when individuals ignore signs of burnout, anxiety, or stress that they cannot deal with themselves, eventually, it becomes chronic and leads to more severe consequences.
People and, I am not an exception, prefer not to pay attention to worrying symptoms because the services are rather expensive for the majority. A single attendance to the psychiatric office might cost around $65-$250, which is a significant amount of money (“Top 5 barriers to mental healthcare access”). Moreover, one seance is not enough for the treatment, and the process might take months to years, depending on the disorder or the problem the client has. In addition, some cases require the usage of the prescribed medicine in complex with the therapy, which becomes even more costly.
My personal experience with finding an affordable and qualified specialist is rather similar to the ones most likely experienced by the majority of young people. Once, a friend of mine told me that he had a friend who is a practicing psychiatrist and that he got his license a couple of years ago so that he would not charge much. When I contacted him, he even suggested having a free first session and then paying him around $30 for the session, but I refused. Although the option seemed great, that psychiatrist did not seem professional or serious about the job in the interpersonal connections, and it made it hard for me to trust him.
However, attempts to find more qualified specialists whose services can be covered with insurance is a huge challenge. Due to the fact that physical and mental health for too many years is divided nowadays, mental health specialists receive very little coverage for their services (Treybig 2020). Consequently, most psychologists prefer to have a private practice rather than join the network or get employed in a certain facility, making their services significantly more expensive. For example, of all the practitioners, only 56% work with commercial insurance, and doctors specializing in physical health usually accept the insurance (Leonhardt 2021). Therefore, it reduces the number of people willing to turn to psychologists since the cost of mental health services is even higher than physical ones.
As it was mentioned previously, there is a chance of finding affordable psychological services, but there is no guarantee that they will be quality. Although I managed to deal with my mental state in the tough periods of my life, some people I know still struggle with it for years and require serious professional help. For instance, the girl from the neighborhood with whom I have good friendly relationship struggles with bipolar disorder and cannot get any treatment for decent six years after the diagnosis because she cannot find and afford the professionals in the sphere. Especially it got harder for her when she moved to the countryside, and besides all the limitations, she also realized that the situation there is even worse regarding mental healthcare. Most of the psychological centers and qualified specialists are located in the cities and megapolis, and in the rural areas is challenging to seek help (Leonhardt 2021). Thus, all the factors complicate the process of getting professional treatment, and in my friend’s example, it is seen that place of residence plays a crucial role.
Nevertheless, despite all the challenges, that issue still requires solutions to it. Undoubtedly, many aspects need improvement, but to solve the problem efficiently, it is crucial to look at the root of the problem: the healthcare system in general. Medical providers such as Medicare have to recognize the importance of psychological services and include them in the insurance packages that would cover higher costs (Leonhardt 2021). Thus, professionals will start to shift from private practices back to the network, and their services will become more affordable.
As an alternative that appeared during the heat of the pandemic, some platforms could continue to develop the remote provision of mental services through video calls with professionals or special programs. Although it may not be effective enough for serious and chronic diseases, it might help in other cases when people need some assistance with experiencing tough moments in their lives.
In addition, medical institutions must implement the practice of teletherapy and allow more professionals to join the community and work with patients online. Such treatment can also be combined with face-to-face sessions, allowing for working with patients with serious disorders or illnesses (Treybig 202). Thus, the services could be included in the insurance and be more affordable to a greater number of individuals.
Overall, access to mental health services is still an urgent problem in society which is significantly widespread among the population. Based on my personal experience and the experience of my friends and inner circle, the causes and reasons for the high prices of psychological services were identified. Firstly, there is a lack of qualified professionals considering the tough cases, especially in rural areas. Secondly, the system still does not fully integrate mental healthcare into the insurance packages and the medical community in general. Therefore, to make it more affordable for people, psychological health should be recognized equally to physical on a systematic level, combining virtual and face-to-face sessions and creating more online programs for less severe cases.
Leonhardt, Megan. “What You Need to Know about the Cost and Accessibility of Mental Health Care in America.” CNBC, 2021, Web.
Treybig, Davis. “Here’s Why Mental Healthcare is so Unaffordable & How COVID-19 Might Help Change This”. Harvard Medical School. Center for Primary Care, 2020, Web.
“Top 5 Barriers to Mental Healthcare Access.” Social Solutions, 2022, Web.