Seeking Mental Healthcare is Hard. There Are Ways to Make It Better. – My Brain’s Not Broken

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Home » Mental Health » Seeking Mental Healthcare is Hard. There Are Ways to Make It Better. – My Brain’s Not Broken


Good Morning! Today at My Brain’s Not Broken we have a guest post from the team at Prairie Health, a company founded to make mental health care more accessible and effective, about some of the ways they believe mental health care can be improved. We discussed some of these things during our last conversation on Instagram Live – now on my Instagram page!

1 in 5 adults in the United States will have a mental illness, but current treatment will not work for most of them. Over 86% of patients with anxiety disorders are not receiving adequate treatment. The problem starts with access. Most people who need mental health services either do not seek them out or do not have access to a qualified provider. Since the need for long-term care is so stigmatized, many do not seek help. In addition, there are not enough trained providers to meet the high demand. The challenge of finding a provider who will accept insurance or have an affordable tariff only makes this problem worse. When the individual is finally able to walk in the door, the nature, quality and effectiveness of the services vary widely.

Problem I: stigma

Although over 20% of the US population struggles with some form of mental health problem, the issue of mental health care – and often medication – remains stigmatized. There are two types of stigma associated with mental illness:

  • Social stigma: the bias of people around you about mental illness
  • Self-perceived stigma: the internalized stigma that a person with a mental illness suffers from

Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking treatment. 8/10 employees with a mental illness report feeling shame and stigma that prevent them from receiving treatment. The consequences can be severe – leading to greater reluctance to seek care, social isolation, poorer psychological outcomes, and heightened feelings of shame and self-doubt.

solution

Fighting stigma can be difficult and there is no one solution. Here are four things you can do to reduce the stigma associated with mental health:

  1. Know the facts. Find out about the prevalence of mental illnesses for yourself and those around you and actively challenge myths and stereotypes.
  2. Be aware of your own attitudes and behaviors. Start correcting inappropriate language (e.g. correcting people when they say things like “This is so depressing”) and informing people of the harm done by using words like “Psycho”, ” Schizen “or” OCD “to describe behaviors emerges; this trivializes the suffering people with these experiences of suffering).
  3. Participate in and share mental health campaigns or create your own campaign on social media.
  4. Remember, you are not alone: ​​many people suffer from mental illness. Make sure you have support when you need it. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provide resources for all those in need. You can also check local government resources in your area (many of these resources are available for free) or search for local support groups.

Problem II: access to care

Not enough trained providers to meet demand

The shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health workers is arguably the biggest barrier to access to medical care. In a survey by Prairie Health, an online mental health service, individuals said the hardest part of finding treatment for them was finding a psychiatrist or therapist. They found that an average of 30 therapists (only 25% of whom responded) had to be called to get an appointment at all.

This problem is even more acute if the person is in need of medication or is currently taking medication. The FDA recommends that individuals starting antidepressant use have at least weekly personal visits for the first 4 weeks of treatment, every other week for the next 4 weeks, a visit after 12 weeks of treatment, and visits as clinically indicated at this time (additional telephone contact is recommended between personal visits).

However, 80% of patients have no contact with a psychotherapist in the first 4 weeks after starting medication. In fact, the average frequency of face-to-face (video or face-to-face) contact with a psychiatrist after taking an antidepressant is currently every 12 weeks.

costs

Aside from the lack of providers, cost is another concern for people seeking psychiatric care. The average cost of a psychiatrist appointment can be over $ 400, and 45% of psychiatrists don’t accept insurance. As a result, many people cannot receive care.

solution

The increase in behavioral health services via telemedicine can help meet growing mental health challenges and provide faster access to providers for people. Telemedicine promises to improve access to care, acceptance of care and drug use. Most tele-health platforms and apps allow you to book appointments directly, with waiting times of less than a week.

Most telemedicine platforms offer lower cost of appointments without sacrificing quality, with therapy appointments between $ 65 and $ 250 and psychiatry appointments between $ 200 and $ 350.

Be sure to check out local vendors in your area as well as some that may offer bulk pricing!

Problem III: Treatment Effectiveness

The problem with current mental health care is that treatment for depression and anxiety was designed with the assumption that “one size fits all”. This is especially true of psychiatric drugs; Many psychiatric drugs were developed before diversity was required in clinical trials. As a result, appropriate dosage guidelines may not be suitable for women and people of color, along with many others.

This has resulted in inadequate dosage guidelines and poorer results in many groups. Most patients have to try several medications to find one that works – this is a problem as they have to wait weeks for their antidepressants to start working. Treatment can take months or more between waiting for one medication to work and switching to a new one. More than half of these patients stop taking their medication as prescribed due to side effects of ineffectiveness; This leads to worse results and a higher risk of deterioration or relapse.

solution

Solving this problem is difficult because everyone reacts differently to different treatments. Genetic testing is one step in solving this problem. It enables providers to make more informed decisions based on the patient’s biology. This is especially important for people who are considering taking medication or who have tried medications in the past but had severe side effects. Genetic testing has shown that it can make treatment more effective and reduce the risk of the side effects associated with it.

You can get genetic testing done either by speaking to your current psychiatrist and reviewing your options, or by finding services that offer genetic testing as part of their service (like Prairie Health).

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Mental health care in the United States is far from perfect. We still have a lot to do to reduce stigma and make care more accessible and effective. However, by expanding the discussion about mental health and investing in new technology and services, we can change the narrative and make better mental health a reality.

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