You say nothing is more important than your sanity – but tell an empty bank account.
It's easy to make platitudes about how to get the help you need, but everyone has a financial reality to deal with. Your mental health is unlikely to improve. When you can't pay bills or put food on the table, the help you need and what you can afford isn't always the same.
Regardless of what you're dealing with, there are plenty of inexpensive options that can make a real difference. Here are some of the best ones to try out.
Download meditation apps
Meditation can be the cheapest and most effective way to promote your mental health. Meditating regularly has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve physical pain.
If you've never meditated before, get started with Insight Timer. This free app contains over 90,000 free guided meditations. You can also create a custom meditation timer with soothing sounds and interval bells.
Paid apps like Calm and Headspace also offer guided meditations. Headspace is $ 12.99 per month, or $ 48.99 for an annual membership, and Calm is $ 69.99 per year.
Meditate for five minutes at a time and work your way up until you can sit for between 10 and 20 minutes. Meditating, like budgeting, rewards those who do a regular practice.
Research shows that being outdoors in the great outdoors can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression – and you don't need a national park or exotic locale to reap the benefits. Easily find a local hiking trail or stroll in a neighborhood park. Doing this a few times a week can improve your mood and all you have to pay for is a little gasoline money.
Understand your insurance coverage
If you want traditional counseling, your insurance can cover a wide variety of psychiatric services, including therapy, psychiatric visits, and prescriptions.
Some insurance companies only cover a few sessions, while others do not pay for any form of mental health counseling. Others may have a network of therapists that you can visit for a reduced fee. Log into your insurance account and search for providers on the network.
When you find an in-network provider, give them a call and see if they have your insurance. Insurance directories are often out of date and can list providers who no longer accept this insurance.
Take a look at your employer's resources
Some employers offer wellness programs that include visits to a licensed psychiatrist. Most companies limit the number of free or discounted sessions, but it's a good place to start if you're new to therapy.
Your employer may also have discounts on apps like Calm and Headspace. Ask your HR department what the employer benefits program includes.
Find an inexpensive clinic or graduate school
Many psychology graduate schools offer discounted sessions to the public in the $ 5 to $ 20 range. The meetings are held with a graduate or PhD student. Student, under the supervision of a professional. The exact costs depend on the particular clinic and their guidelines
Do a Google search for local graduate psychology departments in your area or visit the Association of Psychology Training Clinics website. Enter your city to find options available locally.
Some clinics may have a waiting list if there aren't enough counselors. Adding your name to the list will notify you when a therapist is available.
Use an HSA or FSA
You can use either a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for mental health expenses such as therapy, prescription drugs, and psychiatric visits. These accounts lower your tax liability and allow you to save money on your entire tax bill.
An FSA is provided by your employer, and some companies even fund their employees' FSA. FSA funds expire at the end of the year, so you should use them up by then. The annual contribution limit for FSAs is $ 2,750 for individuals.
If you have a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), you can open an HSA with a local or online bank. Unlike FSAs, the money in an HSA never expires and can be renewed from year to year. Individuals can contribute up to $ 3,600 per year in an HSA or up to $ 7,200 for couples.
Check out group therapy options
Individual therapy is more popular, but it can also be more expensive. By choosing group therapy, you can save up to 50% while getting access to a qualified professional.
You can even look for group therapy sessions that focus on a specific topic, such as: B. Obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders. While you might not get the same amount of attention in group therapy, these sessions usually meet more often.
Find therapists on a sliding scale
Some therapists offer services on a scale, which means that the cost per session is based on your income. The less you make, the less you pay.
If a therapist doesn't mention tiered fees on their website, contact them personally and ask. You never know what kind of discount they can offer.
The Open Path Collective is an online group of therapists who offer inexpensive services, typically between $ 30 and $ 60 per session. Open Path charges a one-time membership fee of $ 59 that stays the same regardless of the number of sessions or the number of therapists you use.
You don't need to present your payroll or tax return to qualify for the Open Path services. However, you are asked to only use this if you cannot afford full-price therapy.
Some local health centers also offer affordable therapy sessions. If you're having trouble finding one online, call your GP and ask for recommendations.
Use coupons for medication
If you are taking medication for your mental health, compare the cost at different pharmacies before picking up the prescription. Use websites like GoodRX to find coupons and contact the drug manufacturer if you can't find any offers. Sometimes they'll send you free or discounted delivery.
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