Mental Health Resources to Help You Cope With Financial Stress
We are living in unique times. The ongoing pandemic presents not just a physical health care challenge but a mental health care challenge, as well.
Social distancing and COVID-related anxiety can create new mental health issues or worsen existing ones. Additionally, financial stress during this trying time has been a factor for many Americans. A survey released by the National Endowment for Financial Education found 88% of experienced financial stress due to COVID-19.
The average cost of therapy may be somewhere over $100 per session, which may not be affordable, depending on your personal financial circumstances, but by turning to low-cost resources and self-care advice from mental health professionals, you may be able to better manage your mind on a budget.
Find out if you’re covered
Unfortunately, many insurance plans do not offer full coverage for mental health services (assuming you have insurance coverage in the first place). Additionally, according to data from nonprofit Mental Health America, about 29% of surveyed adults were unable to see a doctor for a cognitive disability due to prohibitive costs.
If you do have health insurance, investigate your coverage, and make sure your health insurance plan provides the network benefits you need. While the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide mental illness coverage, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to walk into any private practice and obtain free therapy.
Before making an appointment, contact both your insurance provider and mental health provider to learn whether you’ll need a referral from a primary care doctor, if you’ll owe a copay, and which mental health treatments are covered by your plan. Your insurance company may only offer coverage if you have a specific mental health diagnosis, rather than paying for general talk therapy, so it’s important to get a proper picture in advance.
Ask about payment options
If you aren’t insured or are worried about general therapy costs, talk to your potential provider and see if they’ll offer a sliding scale fee or reduced rate for their service. Certain treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, may be more costly than the average session, so it’s all the more important to know your options.
You’ve definitely heard of 911. And you’ve probably heard of 411. But did you know there were other X11 numbers to call in the United States? For example, 211, which was created back in 2000 to provide callers with access to different kinds of local community services. Depending on your area, you may be able to access community mental health clinics offering affordable therapy, group therapy, mental health counselors, hotlines, and other types of therapy.
While COVID precautions are preventing certain in-person doctor appointments, online therapy or therapy sessions over the phone may be an option.
Mentalhealth.gov also has a list of resources for affordable mental health access, including links specifically for veterans.
While it may not be free therapy, 7 Cups is a resource that lets you text or online chat with a therapeutic “listener.” You can choose your listener based on their specialties, expertise, and other characteristics. There are options for both volunteer listeners and licensed social workers and therapy services. You can read a review of 7 Cups at BetterHelp, which itself provides connections to therapists.
Talkspace is a similar service that allows you to text, call, or video chat therapists across multiple devices. Here is a comparison between Talkspace and BetterHelp so you can figure out which of these options may work for you.
If you’re having a serious emergency situation, you can reach out to the Crisis Text Line.
Words from some professionals
There may be steps you can take on your own to try and make dark days a little brighter.
“Practice acceptance,” suggests therapist Kimberly Hershenson. “Make a list of what you can control in the situation (getting enough sleep, eating well) and what you can't control. Focus on what you can control to make change, and accept what you cannot control.”
Hershenson also recommends shutting off the TV, computer, and phone before bed. “Technology stimulates the brain, causing our minds to stay active and unable to wind down. Turning off technology allows us to slow down and prepares the body for rest.”
Alisa Kamis-Brinda, psychotherapist and owner of Serenity Solutions Therapy, directed us towards a list of mental health tips she has written on her site:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid excessive alcohol use. Drink water and other nonalcoholic beverages.
- Exercise for stress management.
- Make a budget and stick to it.
- Take the pressure off of yourself. It is more important for your mental health to follow the above steps than it is to try to be perfect and get everything done. Prioritize, delegate and give yourself a break.
Know that help is always out there. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek it out.
Alisa Kamis-Brinda, LCSW, LCADC, owner and primary psychotherapist at Serenity Solutions, LLC, in Philadelphia, PA, helps overwhelmed, stressed out professionals and new moms learn how to slow down anxious and angry thoughts so that they can be in the present moment, relax, and enjoy life again. Follow her @SerenityAlisa.
Kimberly Hershenson has worked successfully with clients who have experienced problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and difficult relationships. Her aim is to create a warm, supportive, and safe space for her clients to help achieve their personal goals. She believes that, together, they can work on understanding feelings and behaviors regarding clients’ areas of concern while helping them to practice healthier coping mechanisms in order to fully participate in life. Follow her @kimhershlmsw.