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You are beginning to realize maybe you can’t do this on your own anymore, that you need professional help for a mental health issue or substance use addiction. Understanding this is a huge first step. But there are barriers to getting the help you need, including overcoming the stigma of needing treatment, finding the right type and location, and then, of course, being able to pay for it.
Not only will you have to be away from work for a period of time (if your treatment requires a stay at an inpatient facility) while all your bills must continue to be paid, there is the cost of the treatment itself. This only adds to the stress and threatens to stop you from seeking the help you need.
But you are not alone. According to the According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), the most commonly reported reason for not receiving mental health care in 2014 was not being able to afford the cost of care. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 43.6 million people had a mental illness in the past year. But fewer than half received treatment. That’s one in five Americans over the age of 18.
An article in Psychology Today points out that “most mental health problems go untreated for years. Unfortunately, without treatment, these mental health problems may get worse, making them more difficult to treat.”
Getting Help is a Sign of Strength
The “treatment gap” is massive — that is, among those who need treatment for a substance use disorder, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports, few receive it. To close this gap, NIDA says there needs to be more “access to effective treatment, achieving insurance parity, reducing stigma and raising awareness among both patients and health care professionals of the value of addiction treatment.”
All these types of issues requiring treatment are just as important as any physical health problem you may have. If you have a disease like cancer or a serious injury, you wouldn’t ignore or wait and just hope it goes away on its own.
At the launch of the Campaign to Change Direction earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction. … It’s time to tell everyone dealing with a mental health issue that … getting support isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”
Treatment Takes on Many Forms
Treatment is available in many different settings using a variety of behavioral and pharmacological approaches. In the United States, NIDA reports that more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities provide:
- Behavioral therapy
- Case management and
- Many other types of services to persons with substance use disorders.
Drug abuse, addiction and other disorders and diseases can be treated in physicians’ offices and mental health clinics by a variety of providers, including counselors, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers. Treatment is delivered in outpatient, inpatient and residential settings.
Ways to Access Treatment
As with physical health issues, often you cannot get better without certain treatment or medication. Also as with physical sickness it is important to realize that there are many avenues available to help with the cost of treatment. If you don’t know where to start to find treatment, here are some places to look:
- Community mental health centers
- Local health departments
- United States Department of Health and Human Services National Mental Health Information (800-789-2647)
- The National Alliance For Mental Illness (NAMI) and
- School guidance counselors or college counseling centers
Most people can’t just write a check for something as expensive as treatment, but there is financial help in many places, including
- Your health insurance
- Your employer’s Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- A provider that allows payment on a sliding scale based on income
- 12-Step programs and other support groups and
- Houses of worship, hotlines, prayer or meditation.
Other possibilities to look into are federally funded programs, such as Medicaid waivers, Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PADs) and other government programs that help pay for medications. Also, check the Social Security Administration’s “Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool” that you can use online to help you determine if you qualify for Social Security Disability funds.
The Phone Call Is Free
Fear of not being able to afford treatment should not be a factor in avoiding seeking help for a substance use or mental health issue. Call our toll-free hotline to speak with an admissions coordinator 24 hours a day, seven days a week for guidance.