eNewsletter - May 2023
Mental Health Awareness Month: Breaking Down Barriers to Mental Health Treatment
By: Rebecca Hiltz, LSW | Behavioral Health Navigator
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than half of the estimated 60 million Americans struggling with mental health concerns go without treatment. Considering the stigma associated with mental illness, limited access to providers, and the financial burden that can accompany treatment, patients often face numerous obstacles along the journey to treatment. To honor Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we’re discussing these barriers with hopes that increased awareness and access will get more patients the care they need and deserve to live happier, healthier lives.
Personal and cultural risk of stigma prevents patients from seeking it. The stigma attached to mental illness is both a personal and cultural issue. First, people are often ashamed to seek services due to feeling that they will be judged or thought of differently. Whether the issues being dealt with are large or small, the overwhelming assumption that “something is really wrong” can prevent patients from seeking treatment. Additionally, different cultures view mental health concerns differently, with some believing treatment is a sign of weakness or that private matters shouldn’t be discussed. Provider awareness of personal and cultural stigma can better equip patients and families with the information needed to become confident in their treatment, regardless of stigma, and help reduce stigma overall.
Limited access to providers delays or prevents treatment. According to a study by the National Council for Mental Health Wellbeing, mental health services in the U.S. are insufficient to meet the needs of all those who need help. Even though 76% of Americans now see mental health as being as important as physical health, those who need it have trouble getting care due to an overall lack of provider availability. Geographical location of patients can act as a further barrier, with patients living in rural areas having an even more difficult time finding care. Continued awareness of the need for care may encourage more providers to join the field and increase funding to help those in need.
Cost of mental health care in America prevents millions of people from receiving it each year. It’s estimated the cost of mental health care in America exceeds $225 billion annually and acts as a deterrent to treatment being received. Even for patients with insurance coverage, copayment amounts can be high and add up to significant balances over time. Providers can help by helping patients understand costs before beginning treatment and offering payment options if possible. For those who need more financial support, community or government-funded health centers, such as RIMYA Services and the DuPage County Health Department, may offer lower cost options. Simply continuing to work to decrease stigma and increase awareness of mental health treatment options will help decrease costs over time as the culture works toward a more accessible pathway to care.
Find more resources. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health offers consultations with behavioral health professionals who specialize in treating all forms of mental illness. To connect with a certified therapist for a behavioral health assessment, please call the Linden Oaks Help Line 24 hours a day at 630-305-5027 and one of our professionals will help determine if your patient may benefit from treatment at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.