9 Ways To Access Affordable Mental Healthcare


Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, dial or text 988 to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Or, you can text NAMI to 741741 for support from the Crisis Text Line. For emergencies, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Mental healthcare carries an unwarranted stigma. For many individuals, they don’t seek help due to that very reason. However, many others don’t seek help because they face the choice to pay rent or pay for therapy. With rent prices rising, that makes therapy inaccessible for many people. 

Additionally, things like the astronomical rent prices also don’t help the mental healthcare crisis; if anything, they exacerbate it. And while the government hasn’t raised the federal minimum wage since 2009, inflation continues to grow. to increased rates of anxiety and depression. On top of all that, a global pandemic left many feeling isolated and alone. Even the Surgeon General of the United States is blowing the whistle on the severity of the issue. 

In short, we’re struggling. 

Very rarely in history have so many individuals needed mental health treatment that often dangles out of reach. With the median cost for a therapy session costing upwards of $60-$120, it feels like a sealed door we can’t open, or a mountain we can’t climb. 

However, there is hope. 

If you struggle to find affordable mental healthcare, consider the following options. 

1. Check your insurance coverage.
If you have insurance, it should cover access to mental health services, which include therapy and/or psychiatric treatment. Speak with your insurer for details regarding services and coverage. If you are 26 or younger, you can get on a parent’s insurance plan. (And if you don’t feel comfortable with your parents knowing that you need mental health treatment, HIPAA laws protect your privacy). 

2. Look into your Employee Assistance Program.
If a company has employed you full-time, speak with HR or your manager regarding an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). You don’t need to divulge the purpose of your inquiry into the program, as EAP provides confidential services like any other healthcare provider. EAPs offer a wide variety of assistance to employees, including mental health counseling. While EAP only offers short-term services, they serve as a good stepping stone to your mental health treatment. Check with HR to see the number of sessions they cover. 

3. Check college counseling services.
If you plan to apply to colleges and universities or have already enrolled as a student, call your academic institution and ask if they provide mental health services to students. Many campuses offer short-term counseling sessions as part of your college payment. Additionally, you can type in a quick Google search and see if the school offers counseling sessions to current students. 

4. Consider a psychologist-in-training clinic.
Some colleges and universities also offer psychologist-in-training clinics, where they employ students who want to work as licensed therapists. You can look for clinics near you here.

5. Apply for Medicaid.
If you have a low income, you can often apply for Medicaid. Medicaid offers insurance to low-income residents, and many mental health professionals take this form of insurance as payment. You’ll have to submit an application and possibly provide documentation. 

6. Look into community health centers.
Health centers help bridge the gap for patients who may not normally have access to a primary care provider. Also called Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), they help remove hurdles such as financial cost, distance, and even language barriers a patient may have. Though it’s being recommended as a possible resource for mental health care, they offer additional medical services. 

7. Look into your church or place of worship.
If you follow a religious path, many places of worship offer counseling through a leader in the community. A faith and belief system can offer assistance through one-on-one sessions and/or support groups. Even if your spiritual path differs from Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and their subsets) you may find other options if you follow that direction (such as social media and word of mouth). 

8. Get sliding-scale fees.
Some practitioners offer sliding scale fees based on income. SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Care Administration) offers a locator for such places. You can use filters to search for sliding scale fees of professionals that offer this payment option. And other websites offer similar features, such as Psychology Today.  

9. Go to teletherapy.
Teletherapy has gained traction and popularity since the pandemic. With online therapy, you have more convenience since you don’t need to drive to appointments. And they often charge less money than traditional, in-person therapy sessions. Some even offer free trials, and many take insurance as well. 

Remember: it’s okay to admit that you need help.

However, it’s not okay that the balance of a bank account can prevent you from getting mental healthcare. While we work to change that, I will reiterate: There is hope.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash


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