Mental health treatment is expensive. Read on to learn about more affordable options that can help you get the support you need.
Therapy should be a right, not a privilege. There are so many benefits of psychotherapy that can help you learn important ways to cope with the difficulties of life.
Unfortunately, therapy isn’t cheap. However, there are ways to lower the cost and receive the treatment you need to manage your mental health successfully.
In this article, I’ll share some tips that have helped me along the way when I didn’t have adequate health insurance to pay for the treatment that I needed.
I can tell you that when it comes to therapy, there are fits. One therapist may be just what you need, but that same therapist might not work for someone else.
With that in mind, finding the right therapist can feel like an expensive task if you have to pay for multiple first sessions.
That’s why free consultations might be a helpful tip. Many therapists will offer you a free consultation so you can get a better understanding of whether or not they’ll be a good “fit.” I recently went to see a therapist for the first time and realized right away she wasn’t right for me.
It was comforting that I didn’t feel like I wasted any money on this session. It also might be encouraging for you to start the process of going to therapy if you don’t have to pay for an initial session that you don’t find promising.
Some places of employment offer employee assistance programs with their benefits packages. These offer free short-term counseling to help you manage a current problem.
The only downside is that they usually only offer a few sessions, so this wouldn’t suffice for ongoing treatment.
Consider asking your employer if there is an employee assistance program available to you.
Most cities have mental health clinics that provide free or low cost treatment to people who don’t have the funds to afford mental health care.
For example, in my city, there are several agencies that provide medication and therapy for free. They also have programs that are staffed by people who’ve experienced mental health conditions themselves and can advise you when you’re in a crisis.
These programs can also help you with housing issues, food, and other things you might need to stay safe and well.
These clinics provide a great place to chat with counselors who might be able to give you some tips on what worked for them when they were coping with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
Many times, clinicians will work with you on the costs of treatment. You can often find financial assistance to get the help that you need.
For example, some therapists offer sliding scale fees, which essentially means they offer therapy at different rates, depending on your income.
Payment plans are also an option at hospitals. With these, you can pay your bill back a little bit at a time.
However, if you’re experiencing a severe mental health crisis, your safety is more important than anything. Finances are a real concern, but there will be a time to manage that. The important thing is getting the treatment you need, when you need it.
If you live in a college town, there’s likely a department of psychiatry in the local medical school that provides services at a lower cost.
When I was a sophomore in college, I couldn’t afford to see a faculty psychiatrist. I was able to see a psychiatric resident instead, who was significantly cheaper and available to me whenever I needed them. These doctors are supervised regularly by faculty psychiatrists, so you don’t have to worry that they aren’t licensed yet.
University clinics also often offer support groups for members of the community. Beyond providing support, these groups can teach you skills to cope with mental health concerns. For example, they might teach you skills from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which focuses on emotional regulation and coping strategies.
If you’re a student in college, consider looking into available counseling and psychological services. These offices can be good resources for mental health crises.
The only thing to be mindful of is that they usually only see students for a few sessions before referring them to another provider off-campus.
These clinics also might have support groups that can help you meet other students navigating similar issues.
If you look online, you can find several mental health platforms that center themselves on affordable therapy. These usually provide online therapy or telehealth, which has become a major resource for mental health care since the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, when I was in the emergency room last year, they brought in a mental health counselor on a computer to evaluate me. I do wonder if this form of therapy isn’t as “good” as in-person therapy, but the convenience can be a great benefit.
I also think it’s a great start if you need support quickly. You can later find an available therapist who will see you in person if that’s your preference. Sometimes, you can put your name on a waiting list for certain therapists and psychiatrists.
You can also get medication at a lower cost through GoodRx, which is a program that provides reduced-price medications to your pharmacy. Sometimes doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals will have coupons to reduce the charge for the medications, too.
Consider asking your medical professional about cheaper medications, but always make your mental health your biggest priority.
Therapy can be expensive, but there are various ways to find lower cost options so that you can get the support you need.
Your life, safety, and well-being are the most important things to consider when living with depression.
Medically reviewed on October 18, 2023
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