• Mauro Herrera

What Is Mental Health Insurance + How To Get A Free Appointment With A Therapist?

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I'm not here to insult your intelligence, you obviously know the importance to have health insurance, but do you have mental health insurance? I bet you didn't even know it existed, did you?

Mental health has taken center stage in recent years compared to the past, which is great. More than great, it's life-saving! There is less and less stigma around the issue, and celebrity stories have helped highlight this! Helping us to understand that we can all go through difficulties with mental health, and that's ok. However, while it appears that as a society we have made great strides, sadly our health systems have not quite caught up.

Put another way, mental health can be VERY expensive, depending on the country where you live. Even if you are lucky enough to be able to afford good private health insurance, many simply do not go far enough in looking after our mental health properly. Many governments still do not recognize mental illness for what it is: illness, so the public health systems also don't cover it as they should.

What can you do if your health insurance doesn't cover mental health? Or even worse: if you don't have mental health insurance at all?

Why Have I Never Heard Of Mental Health Insurance?

One of the strongest stigmas that there is about mental illness is about going to therapy, in addition to it "being for crazy people", it's also considered a luxury (like WTF?!) Most people think that only very wealthy people can afford it. Thankfully that is not entirely true, since at least I, someone who lives in a third world country, has been able to receive mental health assistance at no cost, but I will tell you my story a little later (spoiler alert: it does not include firearms).

Many countries in South America and North America allocate very VERY little of their resources to the mental health of their inhabitants. I could start talking about percentages and GDP but let's be honest: I wouldn't know what I'm talking about and you wouldn't be that interested either. I will tell you this, however, unless you are living in a very advanced country, your government doesn't care all that much about your mental health. So what should we do? Bring back Punk music and riot on the street? Although I look great with a mohawk, that's not the answer... yet?

You may be thinking “I don't really care, I have private health insurance”, good for you, seriously (no sarcasm intended), but I recommend that you make sure how much it covers for mental illnesses, therapies and appointments with psychologists. In countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, insurers put many restrictions when it comes to treating mental illness, or require very high external payments. In addition, many health professionals refuse to treat patients under the payment of insurance. On the other hand, medications are also not covered by mental health insurance. Sad

The System Has Failed To Protect YOU

Why do policyholders decide not to cover these topics? First of all, they express that the therapies can go on for months and sometimes even years, which means a very high cost for the taxpayer, in addition to the treatments there's the cost of medication. And guess what, they simply don't have to do it. In most countries in this region, there are no laws that regulate mental health coverage, so sadly no Bueno.

However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. No, it's not Punk music, you can put the leather jacket away.

In several countries, mental health has finally and thankfully begun to be considered as a problem that must be treated. The United States - although they joined the club a little late - since 2010 it has begun to take measures to ensure that its citizens have public assistance. if America was late, Peru didn't get the message, only as recently as 2019 has Peru required all insurers to include mental health plans in their coverage.

Things seem to be looking up, but how long can we wait? What can we do in the meantime?

Free Or Low-cost Alternatives For Mental Health Care?

I told you I would tell you my story, so here it goes: in 2017 I started going to therapy, and like many, I thought it was something too expensive that I could not afford. Luckily I had the right people by my side and they guided me through the process, I learned that there are several options and alternatives. I discovered that it is common for colleges, especially those that offer degrees in psychology or psychiatry, to also offer therapist appointment services at little or no cost. I went to therapy with a psychologist at a private university even without being a student there, and I didn't pay for appointments.

Although you may not know it, you have several options, many are right under our noses.

  • If you are studying, always go first to a student advisor, it is very likely that your school or college has one. Don't dismiss the idea, it could be the first step to stable mental health.

  • Call the nearest health centre and ask about their mental health services. They may offer spaces for a professional to assist you and be covered by social security.

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are services that some employers offer to their workers. Find out if this option exists in your workplace, or if you are still young, ask sure your parents' jobs have EAP.

  • On the internet you can find many psychologists who offer pro bono appointments (at no cost), they don't even have to be in your city, since you can have these appointments via Zoom or Skype.

So don't become despondent, but use the resources around you. We hope this has helped anyone looking for access to a therapist who might not otherwise have had this opportunity or knowhow or simply didn't know where to look.

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