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Barriers to Psychological Care

Overview

Many people hesitate to get help for mental health problems. It can be hard to take that first step. Here are some common barriers and ideas for other ways that you might think about them. Maybe you'll see yourself in one of these.

Reasons people might not get help for mental health problems, and possible solutions

Barrier

Solution

"It's hard to schedule and find time for an appointment."

"I can't get there."

  • Therapists, clinics, and hospitals may offer after-hours appointments or weekend hours. They may also offer virtual appointments.
  • Plan your appointments for times that work for you. You may have to wait a few days. But if that's the time you can do it, it's worth the wait.
  • When you call for an appointment, explain your situation. Most mental health care professionals will try to find a time that works for both of you.
  • Ask a friend to help you get there, or check local bus schedules.

"See a shrink? I'm not crazy."

"People will think I'm weak."

"What will my family and friends think?"

  • You are looking for help so you will feel better. It takes strength and courage to seek help from others.
  • Mental health problems are real and can harm your physical health. They are often caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. They also may run in families. Mental health problems aren't character flaws.
  • You can get better with the right kind of treatment. Treatment includes medicine, counseling, psychotherapy (therapy), self-care, or a combination of these. The kind of treatment you have will depend on how severe your symptoms are.

"Someone might get into my medical records and see this."

Doctors, mental health care professionals, hospitals, and clinics take privacy seriously. They won't share your records with anyone not involved in your treatment. If you have questions about your privacy, ask them about it when you call for an appointment.

"I've tried to talk to people. They just don't get it and don't care."

  • It may be hard for some people to understand or relate to your experiences. But other people can understand. Consider finding people who have had similar experiences.
  • Contact your local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) branch to find support groups and other events for people dealing with similar situations.

"I can't afford it."

  • Many towns and cities have resources that may help. Call your local social services department or welfare office to find out.
  • If you have insurance, check your policy to see if you have mental health benefits.
  • Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You may be able to use it to take time off for doctor visits.
  • Ask your doctor for help. He or she may be able to find free or low-cost medicine, counseling, or therapy.
  • Some universities, hospitals, and other institutions may have training programs and may offer reduced fees.
  • Check to see if you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. These programs may be able to help you.

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health