I’ve heard lots of people wonder why those affected with mental illnesses and addiction don’t get help. It should be easy, right? What those people don’t realize is that there are a number of barriers to treatment and wellness.
First of all, you have a brain that doesn’t necessarily want you to get help. It lies to you, slithering around like a snake in your mind, whispering that you’re nothing. That nothing can help. It has become comfy in your misery, laying beside you in bed.
Another barrier is not having a support system. I’m so fortunate to have Darren and the Bear, my family, my doctor, my psychiatrist and psychologist all supporting me as I navigate my disorder. Not everyone is that lucky. Some people have families that don’t put any stock in mental illness, that you should just smile and be happy. They don’t seem to realize that this a disorder, not a decision. Some people don’t believe in therapy and knowing that support isn’t there, the person affected is far less likely to seek help. Stigma plays a hefty roll here.
Those living in rural areas are less likely to have resources to choose from. There isn’t the plethora of therapists, doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists to access. Most people need to venture outside of their little towns to receive help and that is assuming that they have the means (transportation, child care, etc.) to do so. And not to say that those living in large centers don’t experience trouble accessing resources, because they do, don’t get me wrong.
The biggest barrier that I see is money. It costs money to see professionals and it is not cheap. I’m lucky that my doctors clinic has a psychiatrist on staff so I don’t need to pay to see him. I do need to pay to see my psychologist and he is $200.00 a visit. I’m super lucky to have benefits that pay up to $1500.00 per year for visits. Still, once that money runs out, I’m far less likely to book appointments. When you’re living on a tight budget, the ability to have funds available for therapy shrinks dramatically.
There’s also the cost for prescription drugs. I take three different bipolar drugs presently and if I didn’t have a good benefits plan I don’t know how I would afford them. For example, I just refilled my prescription for Trinellix ($111.82) and Rexulti ($127.72) for one month. My Lamotrigine is $167.00 per month and those costs are covered by my plan. For those without good benefits or any plan at all, the price of drugs determine whether or not they can be treated for their condition.
There are so many factors attributing to someone’s inability to get help for their conditions. I wish that more people were aware of what those experiencing mental health illnesses were up against. Maybe there would be more compassion and empathy. Maybe more people would reach out and offer support. And there are so many ways to help. Researching resources or just listening, bringing a hot meal because someone who’s so steeped in depression likely isn’t feeding themselves.
The best way to break down these barriers is to start conversations. Advocate for easier access to resources. Challenge those with stigmatized opinions with some truths. Any traction that we can get helps all of us, not just those who have mental health disorders.