Consumer Watch: Caring for your mental health on a budget
Oklahoma continues to be at the bottom when it comes to access to mental health care. Continued cuts to mental health services will mean less help for people. Bringing it down to the family level, when anyone’s budget is in a crunch, mental health access may not be at the top of your priorities either, even if you need it.
Fox 25 Consumer Watch found some programs that make it easier to get the help you or a family member may need, without taking a big hit to your budget. Even with insurance some people may have a difficult time accessing mental health and counseling services, but mental health professionals say it is important to reach out for help when you need it, even if finances are tight. However, you should know what to ask for.
Access to Counseling in Oklahoma City has a special cash rate for those with a limited budget who are uninsured or underinsured. Their rate is $45 an hour, and there are other mental health offices that have similar programs.
Mental health services are for more than severe conditions, many Oklahomans need someone to talk to in times of transition—this could include divorce, death of a loved one, or even the loss of a job. Other than financial barriers, stigma often stops people from getting help, but Courtney Rodgers- McInturff says the first step is often the most difficult.
"Once you have gotten that completed you get into the counseling services, start to develop a good relationship with your therapist, and they will quickly identify what your needs are and how best to help you,” says Rogers-McInturff with Access to Counseling.
If you have no insurance or are underinsured, you can ask mental health providers or counseling offices about any special cash rates. Also consider your circumstances when selecting where you may go. Some places like Access to Counseling make a point of saying they are LGBTQ friendly, while other therapists may have different specialties or approaches.
“It is good to know whether your agency has therapists that are working within that community and specifically know the challenges that the community faces," says Rogers-McInturff.
Mental health experts say that for many people, only a few sessions may be needed to help overcome temporary struggles. However, it is important to reach out if you are having difficulties during a transitional period.
If you have financial limitations, be upfront about it, and ask about possible solutions, but don’t let any financial constraints limit you from asking questions about a place’s therapy practices to see if you are comfortable. It is important to mesh with the mental health professional or therapist you choose.
If after a few meetings, you find that is not the case, it is acceptable to say something and figure out what situation may work best for your needs.