You don’t need another article telling you that recent years have taken a toll on women’s well-being.
What would actually be helpful is, well, some help — or at least, resources to access it.
“Most people think that therapy is an expensive indulgence, when the truth is that many affordable options are available,” writes Dr. Supatra Tovar, clinical psychologist, registered dietitian and fitness expert. “And with the stresses we are experiencing today, the need has never been greater.”
So let’s get to it. Here are 12 budget-friendly tips and resources to explore as you strengthen your mental well-being.
Review your insurance policy
“In recent years, many insurance companies have expanded their level of mental health coverage,” Tovar explains, adding that many people might be surprised at what’s offered within their network. What’s more, she notes, many policies now offer full or partial reimbursement for out-of-network therapists.
Look for community health centers
Such centers are government-funded and usually work with Medicaid-qualified individuals, writes Tovar, adding that they typically employ qualified therapists completing licensing hours while finishing school or who have recently graduated.
Check out the local medical and/or psychology school
While some schools may require you to commit to a two- or three-year agreement for services, they often offer therapy from psychology or psychiatry students for free, Tovar shares.
Group therapy is a cost-effective option, writes Dr. Mary Gresham, clinical psychologist. Noting that outside-the-box thinking can be key to satisfying mental health needs, Tovar notes that there are many free or low-cost groups on sites such as Meetup or Facebook Groups.
Find resources through Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
A nonprofit network committed to offering very low-cost fees, Open Path Psychotherapy Collective includes a network of therapists willing to work with those in need, Tovar writes.
Consider telehealth options
“Instead of making arrangements and scheduling time to travel to and from the therapist office, you can simply plop yourself in front of a camera right before your session is to start,” writes Tovar, who notes the boom in telehealth is “wonderful news for anyone living in rural and remote areas as long as they have adequate access to the internet.”
Tovar suggests checking out therapist finder options on websites for local psychology associations or conducting a search through Psychology Today. Telehealth therapy platforms can also help you find support.
Find the right fit
Whether you’re meeting in person or online, a connection with your therapist is a must. “Finding quality mental health care can be frustrating and may take time to find the right fit, so patience is key. If you do not feel a connection or have trouble trusting your therapist, then this person is not the right fit for you,” Tovar writes.
Noting an increase in therapist burnout, she notes that “if your therapist is visibly tired, having difficulty with compassion and empathy, stressed, short-tempered, or emotional during session, you may want to relieve their burden by seeking care elsewhere.”
Add to your toolbox
Apps to support meditation and mindfulness practices abound; Insight Timer is a guided meditation app that has hundreds of free meditations on a variety of topics, Gresham notes.
While Gresham advises exercising care about turning to television or social media, she notes that some online resources can be helpful. (She suggests checking out offerings from the The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.)
Take time for yourself
“I encourage my clients to carve out a few minutes a day at the very least to give themselves a chance to reset their nervous systems,” Tovar writes. Even two minutes of breathing slowly in and out, taking a brief walk outdoors, calling a friend, stretching for five minutes or taking a hot bath can do wonders for your stress levels and mental health, according to Tovar.
“In addition to therapy, one of the best interventions is vigorous exercise,” Gresham writes. While it can be hard to start when you’re depressed, she notes, “there are immediate benefits as you will begin to release neurotransmitters and endorphins.”
Remember that student services fee? See what it covers
If you’re a college student, your school may include mental health care as part of your student health fee, Tovar writes. Adding that those looking for care should be persistent, she notes that many slots open due to the higher-than-average rate of cancellations for student services.
Don’t wait. Call now
“If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK is free, open 24/7 and totally confidential. They can also link you to low-cost services after your call,” Tovar writes, adding that it’s important to avoid visiting the local emergency room if you don’t have insurance, as you may receive a very high medical bill later.
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