There is such a lack of mental health services and even if there are resources available access to them is quite hard. For example, I live in a larger city (Tampa, FL), and there are quite a few psychiatrists and therapists around. Many of them do not accept insurance at all (only self pay), many only take a few insurance plans, and those that do accept most insurance plans have long waiting periods to even get an appointment (3-6 months to get an intake).
What are you supposed to do when you need medication but you cannot get in to see your doctor? Go to a hospital? You aren’t suicidal and you don’t have insurance – but the only way to get your medication is by getting admitted to a psych hospital? And in some areas, they do not even have enough psychiatric beds in hospitals even if you are suicidal, so they simply send you home when you are in danger (sadly, this does happen).
I was lucky enough to live in a town in Indiana for 6 years where I obtained great services. I unfortunately was not functioning well enough to get much help from them, but they provided therapy 2x a week, case management 3x a week, psychiatry 1x a month, a clubhouse that was open 7:30am-3pm, and on call services 24 hours a day. They had their own hospital affiliated with their clinic. When I had insurance they accepted it. When I didn’t have insurance they worked with me for a reduced rate ($11/apt). This was completely unavailable when I moved to Florida though. I left the state hospital in Indiana and moved to Florida with absolutely no services for the most part. I had a 3 month wait for the psychiatrist (luckily it was set up while I was still in the hospital, but I still had 1 month after I moved here). This office was horrible though. My appointment would be at 1pm, but I wouldn’t see the psychiatrist til 5 or 6pm. And this was a regular occurrence – I wouldn’t actually see the psychiatrist until 4-6 hours after my schedule appointment time. I couldn’t handle it and finally scheduled an appointment with another psychiatrist, but it took a 3 month weight, and of course, this one didn’t take my insurance so I am self pay.
There are just far too few mental healthcare professionals today. They are one of the lowest paid specialties in the medical field. With the high cost of medical school, few people choose to go into the field. In many areas, there are only private practices as well and not community mental health clinics. Private practice clinics do not offer many of the services that a community mental health clinic can offer such as case managers, medication management, and most importantly a reduced/sliding scale fee that many people may need.
More attention needs to be focused on increasing resources geared towards mental health. Not simply just creating awareness, but actually doing something about it. Fixing the system. Adding more healthcare providers. Getting people more inspired to go into the field. Adding more psychiatric nurse practioner programs to help aid reducing the time patients have to wait to see someone. Increasing funding for hospitals so that patients are not turned away. If someone goes to a hospital for help, they should not be told that they cannot get it.
This lack of mental health resources needs to be addressed.