5 Ways to Get Affordable Mental Health Care

Access to mental health services is a critical part of staying healthy. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in any year, one in five adults and 17% of youth ages 6-17 in the United States experience some form of mental illness. Paying for mental healthcare can be costly, especially if you do not have health insurance. 

There are many types of mental health conditions that can be helped with mental health care. These can range from severe conditions to even anxiety and depression. However, there are ways to get access to affordable mental health care. Explore these possibilities.

Understand Your Health Insurance Coverage
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While mental health costs vary depending on your location and health insurance coverage, the typical hour-long therapy session costs anywhere from $50 to $250. If you go weekly, the cost can end up being between $200 and $1,250 a month.

Since mental health issues are usually not resolved quickly, patients may need to continue with treatment for years. Patients with severe mental illness or substance abuse requiring a residential facility pay between $3,000 and $60,000 per month.

According to a research report commissioned by the Mental Health Treatment and Research Institute, LLC, the average amount spent on mental health and substance abuse services annually is $5,932, however, those in the top 10% of mental healthcare spenders paid an average of $41,631. Mental health and substance abuse treatment accounted for 56.5% of overall healthcare costs, while serving just over a quarter (27.3%) of the US population.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 require that health insurance plans include at least some coverage for mental health and that the coverage is comparable with physical healthcare costs, although there are a few exceptions. So, the vast majority of insured Americans already have insurance that covers therapy. Contact your insurance company to find out the answer to the following questions: 

  • What is the co-pay for the different kinds of mental health services?
    • Therapy – This is “talk therapy” where a trained therapist or counselor will help you manage your symptoms, resolve issues and give you improved coping skills
    • Psychiatrist – This is a medical professional who is authorized to prescribe medication such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, ADHD medications, antipsychotics and other pharmaceutical treatments
    • Mental health tele-therapy – This is when you meet with a therapist or psychiatrist virtually using your computer or phone
    • Residential treatment – These are psychiatric facilities where patients live and receive mental health therapies over a period of time
  • For the different types of treatment, is there a maximum number of allowed visits and if so, how many are allowed in a year period?
  • What is the maximum out-of-pocket costs you are required to pay for in a year?
  • Are there any other caps or limitations on mental healthcare?
  • Do you need a referral from your primary physician for mental health services?
  • Where can you find in-network mental health professionals and facilities?

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