February 23, 2024

Can’t find a mental health provider for your family? You are not alone

In seven words, Sue Abderholden summed up a new national report confirms the stories she hears every week at NAMI Minnesota.

“People have long wait times. Sometimes they can’t find a provider who is taking new patients,” said Abderholden, the organization’s executive director.

A new report from the Bowman Family Foundation, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of people with mental health and substance use conditions, shows that 57 percent of patients who sought mental health or substance use care did not receive it. one case between January 2019 and April 2022. That compares to 32 percent of patients who sought physical health care.

“Fortunately, people are talking about (mental health) more and are more willing to seek treatment, and now, they can’t get it,” said Abderholden.

Abderholden said most of the major providers in Minnesota have waiting lists. If families don’t get the mental health care they need, it can mean they don’t do well at school or work, which can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

The situation is even worse among children who have been severely affected by the pandemic. As for the reasons why care is so hard to find, Abderholden points to the labor shortage. Mental health professionals tend to make less than other health experts. The other biggest reason is that health plans often have narrow networks.

RELATED: The Twin Cities call center continues to expand a year after the launch of the 988 lifeline

“Families are often going out of network, which will cost them more money or they won’t be able to provide care at all,” she explained.

If someone has trouble finding an in-network provider, Abderholden suggests calling the number on the back of their insurance card or visiting FastTrackerMN.orga search tool that can display suppliers with the earliest openings.

They can also file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The state agency recently alleged Two major health insurers have violated mental health parity lawswhich is designed to ensure that cover for mental health care is comparable to cover for medical or surgical care.

Many employers offer employee assistance programs, which help workers access short-term counseling or therapy services at no cost to the employees.

Abderholden also has a message for employers: Look at your plan and ask your employees if they can access care.

“People don’t usually ask those deeper questions, because you usually assume that the care your employee might need is going to be available. Don’t make that assumption,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the US.

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