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Barriers to Psychological Care

Topic Overview

You may feel that you do not want treatment for mental health problems. You may:

  • Not trust mental health care professionals, such as counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers.
  • Worry about money, even if you have insurance.
  • Feel that asking for treatment is a sign of weakness.
  • Think you will get better if enough time passes.
  • Worry that if people find out, it could cause them to think less of you and harm your work and social relationships.

Here are some reasons people don't seek treatment and what you can do about them.

"It's hard to schedule and find time for an appointment."

"I can't get there."

  • Therapists, clinics, and hospitals may offer after-hours appointments or weekend hours.
  • Plan your appointments for times that work for you. You may have to wait a few days, but if that's the time you can do it, it's worth the wait.
  • When you call for an appointment, explain your situation. Most mental health care professionals will try to find a time that works for both of you.
  • Ask a friend to help you get there, or check local bus schedules.

"See a shrink? I'm not crazy."

"People will think I'm weak."

"What will my family and friends think?"

  • You are looking for help so you will feel better. It takes strength and courage to seek help from others.
  • Mental health problems are real and can harm your physical health. They are often caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. They also may run in families. Mental health problems are not character flaws.
  • You can get better with the right kind of treatment. Treatment includes medicine, counseling, psychotherapy (therapy), self-care, or a combination of these. The kind of treatment you have will depend on how severe your symptoms are.

"Someone might get into my medical records and see this."

Doctors, mental health care professionals, hospitals, and clinics take privacy seriously. They won't share your records with anyone not involved in your treatment. If you have questions about your privacy, ask them about it when calling for an appointment.

"I've tried to talk to people. They just don't get it and don't care."

It may be hard for some people to understand or relate to your experiences. But other people can understand. Consider finding people who have had similar experiences.

"I can't afford it."

  • Many towns and cities have resources that may help. Call your local social services department or welfare office to find out.
  • If you have insurance, check your policy. Mental health benefits often are covered through a separate company.
  • Check to see if your state has a mental health parity law. Your employer may be required to provide mental health insurance.
  • Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You may be able to use it to take time off for doctor visits.
  • Ask your doctor for help. He or she may be able to find free or low-cost medicine, counseling, or therapy.
  • Check Medicaid if you have a low income or Medicare if you are 65 or older. These programs may be able to help you.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Current as of January 11, 2013

Current as of: January 11, 2013

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