Mental health is a huge concern in our world today. Despite some advances, there is still a large stigma around mental health; especially around getting treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there were 51.5 million people in the U.S. in 2019 with any type of mental illness. And only 44.8% of those people received treatment. That is 23 million people with limited professional support for their mental illness. As an individual who fought getting help for a long time, I can understand and relate to the concerns and fears individuals have. Getting help is hard; not getting help is harder.
Cost concerns For Getting Help
Many individuals opt out of getting mental health help because they feel that the cost is too expensive for them. This is a very real concern and something that needs to be addressed, but there are some affordable ways of getting the help that is needed. For example, some therapists may have a sliding pay scale on what they are willing to charge. Not all therapists have this option, but it is worth asking. An employed individual may see if their company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that would help cover the cost of some appointments.
Another concern is the cost for medications. There are affordable ways of getting these as well. Coupon companies such as GoodRX is a great resource for medications. A medication that would normally cost $80 with insurance could cost you $15. There are ways to make things work financially.
I Thought I Could Handle It Myself
One of the things that I used to tell others and that I constantly told myself was that I could handle my mental health by myself. I didn’t feel like I needed treatment because I thought I was handling it fine by myself. Spoiler alert…I had no handle on my mental health. In fact, I was spiraling out of control. I knew there was a problem but I didn’t want to get professional help and I am not the only one who has said or thought this. I got to the point that I realized the symptoms were getting worse and I felt overwhelmed and out of control. So I made that hard decision to get help.
Another big piece of this I believe is driven by fear. As a society we are told that we need to suck it up and handle it. Therefore, getting help may seem like the “weak” thing to do. But seeking help for your mental health is not weak…in fact it is one of the bravest things you can do. I want you to re-read that for me. If there is one thing you get from this post, I want it to be that. It is bravery…not weakness. And getting help is hard; not getting help is harder.
When I decided to get help, I had no idea where to start. I was afraid and had a hard time looking for options. Now that I work in the medical field and have been getting help for a few years now, I have a better understanding of where to look. The first place to start is by asking trusted individuals in your life for any recommendations. This may be a hard thing to do, but your personal community may have some really great resources for you.
The next place could be your primary care provider. The reason this is a good place to start is they may have some resources on where to go for therapy or other services you may need. Some primary care physicians are comfortable prescribing mental health medications and can follow you with that care. Some medical companies are even starting to integrate behavioral health professionals in their primary care offices. There can be so many options there, making it a great stepping stone. The last thing one could always do is personally looking up providers. Psychology Today has a feature on their website where you can search by your zip code and it will provide a list of therapist in your area. And from there, you can narrow down your search (gender of provider, type of insurance, type of mental illness or concern, age, etc.).
Not Getting Help is Harder
I lived with untreated Complex PTSD issues for years. The untreated symptoms ending up controlling my life and put a strain on all my relationships. Life with these symptoms was hard. After going to therapy and these symptoms started to decrease and even go away, I saw my quality of life increase and my relationships got stronger. Getting help is hard; not getting help is harder.
You Got This
Deciding to get help is hard and a huge decision. There may seem like a million obstacles in the way. There may be so much fear and anxiety behind it. Admitting that you need help and finding ways to make it happen is brave and shows strength. If you are in a space where you know you need help but are facing these obstacles, I pray that you are encouraged by these words. You can call 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) – National Hopeline Network or visit HERE for more support resources in your area.