Fighting the stigma with affordability in mental health care

Mental health care needs to be more accessible.

Dealing with mental illness can often be a battle fought on two fronts. Those suffering still have to deal with all the problems associated with paying for treatment while at the same time dealing with the stigma often associated with mental illness.

We need to treat mental health issues with the same level of urgency as physical health issues.

When an individual is caught in a spiral of depression or obsessive thinking, friends and family are quick to prescribe positive thinking or going outdoors rather than encouraging them to seek out a mental health professional.

Mental health is an issue of physical well-being.

This issue affects far more people than many believe. According to the Mental Health First Aid website, nearly half of all Americans will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime.

What’s worse is only 41 percent of Americans who had a mental health disorder in 2018 were actually treated with professional health care services.

With that level of prevalence, we need to get rid of this harmful stigma against those with mental illness. There are often invisible symptoms that are not always evident to those looking in.

There are a number of factors that go into why someone might not visit a doctor, a common one being a lack of resources. Although most health care insurance plans cover mental health coverage, there is still the problem of the 27.4 million people in the U.S. who do not possess any form of health care coverage.

A study from Mental Health America found that Florida was ranked No. 40 in the country for providing mental health care. Despite our relatively low levels of mental illness in Florida compared to other states, we are still low on the list for access to care. This is because of the lack of availability for those in the mental health care workforce and the fact that 2.6 million Floridians are uninsured.

This is compounded by the fact that mental illness is most prevalent in both uninsured and poor individuals, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. According to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 13 percent of those who had experienced going without mental health care said they could not afford it and 12 percent said their insurance didn’t cover it.

It’s no surprise that cost would be a roadblock for patients. The average stay for an in-patient psychiatric hospital stay can run from $8,000 to $12,000, according to Cambridge Health Alliance.

We are failing those with mental illness in this country. Both in our rhetoric and in our practices. The best thing we can do for those struggling is to fight the stigma while also fighting for increased insurance coverage.

For any student in need of psychological services the USF Psychological Services Center can be called for appointments at (813) 974-2496.

Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.