Unmet Need for Mental Health Services

Results of The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that 11.8 Americans believed they had a need for mental health services during the past year that went unmet. Slightly more than half of those, about 6.3 million, received some mental health services but perceived they had an unmet need for additional treatment. About 5.5 million of the responders reported not receiving any treatment during that time.  

There are a number of reasons people cited for not receiving proper care. While some may be unavoidable obstacles to obtaining treatment, others may be self-imposed barriers that can be removed so proper care can be administered.  Challenging these self-imposed reasons for not seeking treatment may reduce unnecessary anxiety and stigma and in fact, may help people follow through with sufficient care that is available to them.

Of the reasons for not receiving mental health services, the following “reasons” stand out:

Reason #1: Expense

  • 38% of responders reported they “Could not afford cost.”
  • 13% reported “Health insurance does not pay enough for mental health services.”
  • 7% say they did not receive treatment because “health insurance does not cover any of the mental health services.”

The Reality

  • Our thorough billing staff can help you to understand your insurance benefit and what your out of pocket costs might be. Call (248) 646-6659 to speak to a billing specialist.
  • You may have other benefits such as a health savings account or an Employee Assistance Program that can help to cover therapy costs.
  • Postponing treatment can actually lead to higher medical expenses as untreated mental health issues can lead to both higher physical health care needs, longer or more intense treatment, and even missed work days or inability to work.

Reason #2: Fears of Judgment or Stigma

  • 12% were concerned about being committed to a hospital or having to take medicine.
  • 11% feared neighbors or community would have a negative opinion.
  • 9% were concerned about confidentiality.
  • 9% thought it might have negative effect on the job.
  • 8% did not want others to find out.

The Reality

  • The experienced therapists at Birmingham Maple Clinic go to great lengths to respect your privacy and confidentiality.
  • A therapist will work with you to understand your options when it comes to taking medication or hospitalization.  There are many treatments available and there is no single, ‘right’ option for each person. Individuals can chose one treatment or a combination of a few that work the best for them.
  • A therapist can explain your rights to confidentiality and the limits to confidentiality that exist for your safety; such as whether there is risk of suicide or other harm.
  • Guilt, shame, anxiety, feelings of failure are normal when coping with a mental illness and a sensitive therapist can help to cope with these feelings as well as challenge unreasonable fears. Family therapy can be useful to educate family and other supports about proper responses to mental health needs.
  • A therapist can be helpful in teaching boundaries and how to protect or advocate for your own privacy within your community or family.

Reason #3: Hopelessness

  • 28% thought they could handle the problem without treatment.
  • 21% did not know where to go for services.
  • 20% did not have the time.
  • 10% thought treatment would not help.

The Reality

  • People with mental health conditions often find psychotherapy or talk therapy very helpful.
  • Talking with a therapist can help deal with thoughts, behaviors, symptoms, stresses, past or current life experiences that can promote health and actually reduce the likelihood of recurrent problems.
  • Therapy can help you to feel stronger, more self confident, change behaviors that hold you back, help set and achieve goals, cope with recurring problems, develop stronger relationships, cope with difficult feelings like fear, anger and sadness, and look at things from a variety of perspectives.

To make an appointment with a therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic visit www.birminghammaple.com or call (248) 646-6659.

Sources:

Peggy Christidis, PhD, Luona Lin, MPP, and Karen Stamm, PhD. Monitor on Psychology. “An unmet need for mental health servicesApril 2018, Vol 49, No. 4 Print version: page 19.  

American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/04/datapoint.aspxMental Health America. “Therapy.” http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/therapy. April 2, 2018.

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