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Why is Mental Health Care So Expensive?

Benefits of Investing in Mental Health Care

Almost four in 10 U.S. adults say they have trouble affording health care costs. Mental health care is often more expensive than physical health care, and often insurance doesn’t cover it the same way. Why is mental health care so expensive? There are a lot of factors that contribute to the cost of mental health treatment. Once you understand what goes into the costs, you’ll realize exceptional mental health care is worth the investment.

Exceptional Care is Costly

When you’re seeking mental health treatment, you want exceptional care. While you may find cheaper care — for example, mental health care apps — often, it will be ineffective and a waste of your money. If you want mental health treatment that works, you should expect to invest more financially.

Factors that make mental health care expensive:

  • Specialized Training and Education. The mental health counselors you’re working with have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at minimum, which is at least six years of higher education and hundreds of thousands of dollars investment. And that’s not to mention the hours they spend in practical training outside of the classroom. The hard work they put in and the money they spent earning their degree can make exceptional care costly.
  • In-Person Care. On-site, in-person care is more time-consuming and hands-on, which makes it more expensive than online care. Since your mental health counselors are spending more time with you in a dedicated space rather than seeing a higher number of clients virtually, the cost per session will reflect that. In addition to the time spent, there are costs associated with keeping the facility operational.
  • In-Patient Care. In-patient care, which includes overnight stays and hospitalizations, is typically reserved for more acute needs and emergency cases. Intensive, or emergency mental health treatment, can be costly. You’re also paying for any food, accommodations, medications, dedicated staff, and other medical equipment used during your treatment. 
  • Outpatient Treatment. Outpatient care, which includes onsite treatments without an overnight stay, can be pricey because it’s still in-person care. Outpatient care requires more time and equipment, which drives up the cost. 
  • Integrative and Holistic Treatment. When you find a mental health facility that offers a full continuum of care, tailoring treatments to meet your individual needs, this exceptional care is often more expensive. The care is not just a replica of what every other client receives but rather carefully thought out and planned for you. It often requires specialized services or settings and varying expertise from mental health professionals.
  • Lengthy Programs. When you break your arm, you receive treatment until it’s fully healed in about six weeks. In contrast, mental health care isn’t as straightforward. It often requires consistent, long-term treatment programs, making it more expensive overall.

“Running a full-service treatment center that provides quality integrative, holistic care that’s customized to an individual and their needs is no small endeavor,” said Julie Eberwein, Executive Director of Integrative Life Center. “It takes specially-trained staff to really serve clients’ needs.”

Why is Mental Health Care So Expensive?

Mental health care is generally just as, or sometimes even more expensive, than physical health care for various reasons. Operational costs and lack of insurance coverage can make it challenging to afford. And because you can’t see much of the illness associated with your mental health, many people put off the expense.

“Because people can’t see issues with their mental health the same way they can see a wound that needs stitches, they may have a tendency to put off dealing with issues when they need help,” Julie said. “Avoiding getting the help they need can exacerbate mental health concerns to the point of an emergency. Mental health issues also can compound and become other concerns if left untreated.” 

Mental health care is challenging to afford because of:

  • Increased Demand. 1-in-5 U.S. adults experienced mental health problems in 2020. The number of people experiencing mental health issues continues to rise every year. Because so many people need mental health care, resources have been depleted and costs have increased.
  • Lack of Accessibility. There are a lot of medical and insurance roadblocks that can make it difficult to receive affordable care, including access. For example, if there aren’t many mental health care providers in your area, wait times can be extensive and services offered at a premium.
  • Limitations of Insurance Coverage. While your insurance may cover a portion of your mental health treatment, it may not cover everything. You’ll have to pay out of pocket for whatever your insurance provider doesn’t cover.
  • Providers Not Accepting Insurance. If your mental health care provider doesn’t accept insurance, you will typically pay $65 to $250 per hour for their services. If you do have insurance, look for a provider who accepts your policy on an in-or-out-of-network basis.
  • Treatment Time. Mental health care is long-term and consistent, and it’s more costly to receive ongoing care. Improving your mental health is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Employer Issues. If you need long-term care, your employer may not be understanding. This issue can cause you to lose income, on top of potentially pricey mental health care. 

Although mental health care can be expensive, more times than not, the result is worth the investment. 

Seeking mental health treatment offers many long-term benefits and improves your overall quality of life. 

Benefits of Investing in Mental Health Care

Your mental health impacts every aspect of your daily life. You probably don’t think about its reach until there’s an issue. Due to the reach and impact of mental health, improving yours can make every day feel a little brighter. 

Working with a mental health professional:

  • Improves your mental and physical health
  • Breaks unhealthy patterns and behaviors
  • Enables stress management
  • Heals past trauma
  • Provides tools for connection
  • Promotes future well-being
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Helps you live your most authentic life

“Getting help with mental health issues can help you live a happier, more authentic, and fulfilling life,” Julie said. “We need to create a solution that allows all people affordable access to the mental health care they need and deserve.”

Overall, mental health care helps you avoid feeling like every day is a battle, and instead, start to cherish and enjoy life. While you’ll experience a boost in your mood, mental health care also gives you the tools and knowledge to manage bad days. Because issues are inevitable in life, you’ll learn to cope with them better. 

We’ll Help You Navigate Costs

At Integrative Life Center, our top priority is to make mental health treatment accessible. Every client deserves incredible mental health care, which is why we’re making it our mission to help. If cost is a barrier for you, we’ll help you navigate the murky waters of insurance, finances, and programs available, so you can find one that works for you. Contact Integrative Life Center today.

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