I need help. I have begun to realize that my mood changes radically. I feel stuck in my life and like I have no motivation to do the things I like anymore, I feel tired all the time, I feel like my life is really worthless. I don’t find fulfillment in anything, not even my marriage. I don’t ever want to have intimacy with my husband anymore. I am deal with anxiety that just swallows me everyday. I am really struggling, I am wondering if this is depression and what I can do about it? We can’t afford counseling right now, but I would be willing to save for it long term, I just don’t know why I am feeling like this. I just want to be happy.
On our page we see a LOT of posts and questions that come down to one basic thing-someone needs professional help, but they can’t afford it. I did some research on different options to make counseling affordable.
Before I get to my list, I do want to bring up one thing-budgeting. In my opinion, there are very few things more important than your mental health and well-being. Make sure your basic needs are met (food, shelter, clothing, gas for your car) and then figure out how you can make room in your budget for counseling. If 10 counseling sessions (at $50 a piece) are what it takes to save your marriage, make you feel better, or move you forward, it is TOTALLY worth it. I don’t know anyone who would say “$500 wasn’t worth saving my marriage.”
Insurance: This is the first option that comes to mind, because it’s the most obvious. If you have health insurance, find out what providers they cover, and what your copay is. You can even use a health savings account to pay for any sessions. If you don’t have health insurance, ask your employer for a book of benefits. Many employers offer benefits called EAP’s (employee assistance programs) that aren’t well known-like counseling hotlines. Some insurance providers even have free “ask a doctor” chat features. If you don’t have insurance or aren’t working, even Medicaid insurance covers community counseling.
Cash: If you don’t have insurance, or have a very high deductible, I would recommend asking for the cash price. Many healthcare services (not just counselors) steeply discount their rates if you pay up front, at the time of your session. Along with this, some counselors do have sliding scales, where they charge a co-pay based on your income, so what you pay for services is tailored to what you can afford.
Colleges: If you are a college student, take advantage of all of the awesome services colleges provide for their students. One of these services is in-house counseling. Generally the student can go by themselves, or with their spouse, and you will have access to a professional, licensed counselor for free. This also applies if you or your spouse work for a college. Even better, they work with mostly college aged young adults, so they have a ton of experience with issues young adults face.
Churches: If you are religious, check to see what counseling services are available to you. Some churches have their own form of counseling services (like LDS Family Services) and some will help pay for you to go to counseling if you cannot afford it. Church counseling can have pros and cons. Keep in mind that if you go to a church sponsored facility, you may get a lot of advice that is targeted towards your spiritual well being (like prayer or scripture recommendations.)
Self-Help: If you are in a position where you cannot afford any form of counseling, or a co-pay, I would highly recommend pursuing self help. This is an especially good option if you are aware of your specific weaknesses and mental health needs. There are so many books on everything from anxiety, to relationship rescue, to depression-and they can be extremely valuable. Local libraries often have these books in stock, and if they don’t, they will order them in for you. There are also a lot of free podcasts, apps and Youtube channels that focus on self improvement. I highly recommend Ted Talks.
NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness): They can direct you to free or affordable counseling and support options.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration): A comprehensive national organization who can help you find low cost and affordable mental health options.
Have you used any of these services in the past? Have you used a service I didn’t mention? Please let me know!