Long wait times force people to pay more for mental health treatment, says study
Breaking News Depression Mental Health Mental Illnesses Dec 05, 2017
Long wait times force people to pay more for mental health treatment, says study

“My 10-year-old son has been struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism for the past two years,” said a young mother who is still waiting for the right professional intervention. Her inability to get in touch with a suitable in-network provider who can cater to her son’s special needs has left her frustrated. Though her son has been receiving cognitive therapy, he is placed on “wait” since a year. The woman fears that eventually, she would have to search for an out-of-network mental health care provider at an exorbitant cost.

The woman and her son are not the only ones who are forced to experience such helplessness because of the existing state of affairs. Now, a recent study suggests that while on paper it may be easy for the needy to seek mental health treatment, in reality, it could be a daunting task. According to the findings, the percentage of Americans nationwide seeking mental and behavioral health treatment who resorted to out-of-network providers was four to six times more than those who required surgical and physical illness care. More often, long wait times are the reason for such a major shift, the study found.

Besides, the study also highlights the fact that the likelihood of mental and behavioral health care specialists working with insurers is significantly low because they are paid 20 percent less than medical and surgical providers, even though they provide the same level of care. As a consequence, the demand for mental health caregivers exceeds supply, leading to longer wait times and higher charges.

Experts term present crisis as ‘wake up call’

In the light of the current situation, Andrew Romanoff, president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, insisted that all insurance companies should abide by the law and must be held accountable if they fail to do so. He even described the present crisis as “wake up call” for everyone. Romanoff said that insurance companies cannot pass the buck citing lack of sufficient mental health professionals. Romanoff also hoped that the findings of the study would provide both state and federal agencies with the much needed evidence to rectify the disparities, instead of allowing long and painful waiting periods.

Even today, there is deep stigma and shame associated with mental health in the American society. In fact, this is one of the major reasons why, in an otherwise health-conscious society, mental health generally does not make it to the agenda of public health discourses, resulting in a paucity of professionals in this field. Studies show that the deepest regret of those battling chronic mental health disorders is that they never took the trouble to seek preventive mental health screening or timely treatment, which could have prevented their present misery.

According to the Mental Health America (MHA), one in five adult Americans struggles with a mental health condition. Therefore, it becomes important to invest in a comprehensive diagnosis to determine the underlying causes of mental health ailments and adhere to a systematic treatment plan in a reputed treatment center to prevent the condition from snowballing into potential long-term complications.

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