Low-Cost or Free Mental Health Services and Why Our Community Needs Them

May 27, 2013

Free mental health services have the potential to transform the mental health crisis in America. Although there is a lot of talk about the stigma surrounding mental illness – and there is plenty of stigma – that is not the number one reason why people avoid seeking treatment for mental illness. One of the primary reasons that people don’t get help is that they fear the costs associated with mental health services. Insurance providers may not support mental health treatment, or affordable treatment may be difficult to access. By increasing the availability of low-cost or free mental health services in our community, we can link people to the treatment they need.

Why The Need for Free Mental Health Services?

Limited Access

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 89.3 million Americans lived in a federally designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area in 2010. That’s compared to only 44.6 million in dental health shortage areas. We need to establish more access to mental health services, and we need to keep the cost manageable.

Financial Limitations

Almost twenty-five percent of Americans who receive mental health care are paying for it themselves. This can lead to outpatient treatment costs of up to $5,000 per person. Many Americans do have some form of health insurance coverage, but this does not lift the financial burden. They are still forced to pay out of pocket for these services.

Community Support

We believe that “it takes a village” to create a sustainable, healthy community, and that means providing support to everyone who needs it, no matter how much money they have. Mental health services can come in many forms: counseling, support groups, in-patient, out-patient, partial hospitalization, aftercare, and more. If we make free mental health services available, we can direct individuals to a treatment plan that is best for them, not a generic program that may not deal with their specialized situation. The only way we can achieve this goal is with the help of the community.

People in Need

We assist individuals and families living with mental illness anywhere in the United States. People often find us through judicial circuit courts, public and private social organizations, self-referrals, and more. Between 2009 and 2011, states cut an overall $1.8 billion from their budgets in services for children and adults with mental illness. Every year, severe mental illness costs society nearly $200 billion in lost earnings. In 2009, 12 million American adults reported unmet needs for mental health care. There is a clear need for low-cost or free mental health services in our country.

Providing free mental health services can serve multiple purposes. It can allow people in restricted financial situations to obtain the help they need. It can remove the stigma of cost that stops so many individuals from seeking treatment. Ultimately, it can improve the health and wellness of individuals in our community, leading to an overall positive change for everyone. Through education and working together, we can make this change a reality.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental illness and is facing financial obstacles to services, please call us at 1-800-338-5770.  At Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation we provide access to low-cost or no-cost mental health services through a variety of community mental health centers and professionals.  We also offer educational workshops for families and professionals.