When people feel sick or have sustained an injury, they go to a hospital. Their symptoms are recorded, and an appropriate treatment is provided. Ideally, the patient will recover and return to normal life. When someone has a mental health issue, however, the process is not as clear. This is partly thanks to the barriers in place within our health care system and society in this country. Below is a short exploration into a few of the barriers people often face when seeking and receiving mental health treatment.
One in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue at one time or another in their life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reports that one in 20 Americans suffer from a serious mental illness. These disorders range in severity and include diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. It’s estimated that 27 million Americans are currently going without therapy, medication, or even an official diagnosis thanks to a barrier in their lives preventing them from seeking help.
One major barrier is the cost of treatment. For example, traditional 60-minute therapy sessions will cost anywhere from $65 to $250 for those with or without insurance. Costs elevate with more severe diagnoses, as they carry heavier lifetime cost burdens. For instance, individuals afflicted with major depression could find themselves spending an average of $10,836 on health costs per year.
Social stigma is the next big obstacle. Mental illness-associated stigmas often dissuade people from talking about their problems openly and requesting treatment. They may feel embarrassment or shame for needing support and may even fear that it will negatively affect their relationships, reputation, or career. These feelings can worsen symptoms, making treatment and recovery a distant concern.
Another barrier is the ability to hire the services of a culturally sensitive provider. Minority populations only represent one-sixth of psychologists, despite these communities representing nearly 40% of the U.S. population. A lack of diverse care and cultural knowledge among these providers will in turn effect communication, as well as the comfort level between the patient and psychologist.
Another example of this is a language barrier. Mental health therapy relies heavily on verbal communication and, although the United States has a diverse population, non-English speaking individuals often have a very hard time finding providers fluent in their language. This barrier could then lead to delayed treatment and misdiagnosis among other missteps.
For more information mental health care and how to overcome therapeutic barriers, please see the accompanying resource.
Guide created by AnswerSuite