According to the website of Mental Health America, which runs a campaign called B4Stage4, early symptoms of mental health issues might not become serious. While it is true that they often go away on their own, when they don’t go away, it usually takes 10 years from the time of their first occurrence to the time of proper diagnosis and correct treatment.
Since America’s mental health care system is far from perfect, here are a few tips on how to navigate it:
#1. Find a therapist
Finding a therapist that you feel good about will most probably take longer than you thought, according to Alyssa Petersel, LMSW, founder and CEO of MyWellbeing, a site helping the residents of New York City find their therapist match. This website has a free questionnaire to match people from New York City with potential therapists. However, if you are not from New York, you can find a therapist by reading bios of therapists in your city or zip on Psychology Today. Just remember to cross-reference to check if they’re covered by your insurance.
Even in cases when a provider is out of network, an insurance company may still cover part of your fee. Pooja Lashmin, MD a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and founder of Gemma, a digital education platform for women’s mental health, recommends that you ask your prospective providers for the CPT code or current procedural terminology code, which describes a medical procedure that they would use for the sessions. After that, you should call your insurance company to ask them how much they will reimburse for that code.
Another way to lower the cost of therapy is to use the services of residents of local medical and psychology schools.
# 2. Apply for benefits from a therapy charity.
The Loveland Therapy Fund has partnerships with Therapy for Black Girls, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, Talkspace, and Open Path Collective. The application process is super easy.
# 3. Have patience on the mental health care journey.
No matter which route you take, the first therapist you talk to may not be the one you need. Sharlene Kemler, CEO of the Loveland Foundation funding mental health care for Black women and girls through partnerships with Therapy for Black Girls, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, Talkspace, and Open Path Collective compares finding the right therapists to dating as it will take several sessions before it happens.