How to Find Affordable Mental Health Services?
First, let’s just admit that finding the right mental health services for you may not be the easiest task in the world. Whether you have health insurance or not, you will likely find yourself lost in the process of locating the right therapist or prescriber. There may be many options, but locating someone with openings will be tough, and the higher your expectations at the outset of signing up, the harder it will be to find the right person. So for now, let’s set aside those expectations and discuss where you can start looking for help.
The easiest place to begin is a website called Psychology Today, which features a search engine that will help you find a therapist or a medication management provider. You can start by visiting https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists. Once there, you can enter your city or zip code in the search bar to locate nearby treatment options. From here you can review the profiles of potential therapists or medication management providers, and collect important information such as whether your insurance is accepted by their office, which specific areas of treatment they specialize in, and whether they match what you’re looking for in a healthcare provider. You can also decide whether you want to do sessions in person or remotely.
Your search may become frustrating at times. You might spend all day making phone calls to different places, only to have them go unanswered or your messages left unreturned. Therapists and doctors are not always the best at running their medical practices as businesses, so while they may excel when it comes to patient care, they may also fall short when it comes to their customer service skills. Try to be patient yet persistent. Don’t be afraid to call more than once, or to leave them multiple messages if you have to. Of course, calling ten times a day and yelling at the front desk workers will do little to help your case or to get you seen faster. But calling back every few days, or even sending them a polite e-mail, can go a long way in helping you ensure that an appointment gets made.
Another useful resource to consult when searching for a provider is your insurance card. The back of your card should include a phone number you can call to contact your insurance company, and receive help locating a provider that accepts your insurance. You may spend a little while on the phone, as your insurance company may need to consult with different providers to find out who is accepting new patients. But once again, a little bit of patience goes a long way, and this can be a wonderful resource if you find that seeking a provider on your own proves challenging. Some insurance companies even have search options you can access on their website, if you would rather look for a provider online than over the phone.
An additional option to consider may be your EAP resources. EAP stands for Employee Assistance Program. Most companies offer these benefits to their employees, and it can be worth inquiring whether your place of employment does. EAP benefits can vary depending on the company, but they often include counseling resources that may be available to you for free. Usually there are a limited number of sessions available, but some companies offer as many as 10 sessions per year to their employees. These sessions are usually 100% covered and do not count towards your deductible, nor are they submitted to your insurance company. These services can typically be set up through your company’s Human Resources department, and are designed to help employees who may be experiencing stress due to their work or other challenges. Most regular stressors qualify to be treated by EAP providers. Some companies may offer only three sessions with EAP providers, but that’s still three sessions that you don’t need to pay for out of pocket. It’s a resource worth taking advantage of free of charge, and if you find that your EAP counselor is effective, you have the option of using your insurance to continue seeing them down the road.
If you have little or no income, you may qualify for state insurance programs such as Medicaid. You can submit an application online to determine your eligibility for these services. Although it can be a challenging process, it is often worth it in the end when you receive your insurance card, and are able to access your benefits. State insurance is frequently better than private insurance because you have no copays and no deductibles to worry about. State insurance will frequently also cover brand medications, whereas your private insurance may not. Many providers in Ohio will accept state insurance, and finding these locations is usually very simple.
If none of the above options sound like a fit, there are still more ways for you to find care! Mental health outpatient agencies for the state of Ohio can be found through Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services at https://mha.ohio.gov/get-help/find-a-provider, or by phone at 1-614-466-2596. They can help you find an agency that is accepting new patients and is covered by your insurance, or in some cases grants to provide care at absolutely no charge to you. Some agencies have case managers that can help you find additional resources, apply for Social Security Disability, or aid you in seeking employment. You may also be charged a discounted rate per service depending on your level of income.
If you are working and have no insurance because of the cost, but you feel you can afford to pay cash for mental health services; or if you don’t want to use your health insurance because you don’t want others to be aware that you’re receiving treatment, then self-pay options may be best for you. There are hundreds of therapists and medication management providers out there. Great quality services do not always come at top dollar prices, and you can often find providers who will offer you a reduced rate of $60-$100 per session. Insurance companies are a nightmare to deal with for many providers, and so many are turning away from taking insurance altogether. Often they would rather see you at a discounted rate than have to deal with the issues, regulations, and money take backs that insurance companies engage in. Whenever your insurance company is giving you a hard time, you can be sure that the health care providers you’re working with are experiencing the same frustrations, if not worse. Many providers would rather avoid these hassles and the burnouts that come along with them. So keep searching and be patient, and there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in a provider, both clinically and financially.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Make sure that your mental health needs are being taken care of. There are many resources available out there, and this short list is only the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, we often take care of our cars with more consistency than we do ourselves. We are somehow trained to believe that our physical wellbeing is what matters most in life. However, mental health is at least as important as physical health. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Find a mental health care provider who is right for you, who can begin to help you through the challenges you face in life. Don’t wait until an emergency to seek help. Reaching out can be challenging enough on its own, but doing so when you’re already in crisis mode may feel close to impossible. If you do have a crisis, go to your nearest ER and tell them about it. Insurance or not, your health and wellbeing are priceless. Many ER’s have programs that will charge you based on your income, as well as programs that will waive your financial responsibility.
Talk to them and let them know about your financial constraints. They can help connect you with the resources you need.
May the Force be with you. Good luck in your search!