Taking care of our mental health should be one of our top priorities, but less than a third of people struggling with psychological distress seek support from a mental health professional. Left untreated these issues can compound, impacting both the individual and the people around them.
There are many reasons why people do not pursue help, even when they want it. This blog will outline common obstacles to receiving therapy and solutions to overcome them.
High Per Visit Cost
Cost is one of the biggest barriers to receiving mental health support with a 50-minute session with a psychologist costing up to $250. Considering most people attend therapy with the goal of bi-weekly, if not weekly, sessions, the cost of seeking mental health support adds up quickly.
Fortunately, several telehealth options are available and help make mental health support more affordable. There are many mental health apps available aimed at making mental hygiene easy and accessible. Mind Beacon and Lumino both offer virtual therapy via video chat or messaging. Canada Life provides free resources to everyone, as well. This can help employees worried about the stigma of seeking mental health support, as absolutely no one but their therapist knows they are seeking therapy, and they won’t be running into anyone in a waiting room.
Employees can also access virtual therapy directly from psychologists and psychotherapists. The pandemic forced therapy online and many professionals continue to offer their services virtually for those that prefer it.
Furthermore, many provinces offer therapy sessions with therapists in training. These students are often in their final year of a masters of counseling psychology program, or have already graduated and are working on their hours required to be a fully licensed psychotherapist. These sessions are typically much more affordable, though the wait-lists can be quite long.
Long Wait Times
Demand for therapy and mental health support is growing, and there aren’t enough qualified mental health professionals to keep up. Employees may struggle to find a therapist that is accepting new patients, and long waitlists can be discouraging.
Location is also a factor. Anyone living in rural or suburban regions may not have access to the type of in-person therapy they are seeking in their area or the means to travel. And many people simply don’t know where to turn when they’re struggling or what types of help are available.
Psychology Today is an excellent resource for accessing mental health services. It allows your employees to search for providers across Canada by postal code and tells them what types of therapy they provide, if they are accepting new patients, and if they offer their services virtually. Users can sort results by price, age, gender, service offered, and what issues you are seeking help for.
Difficulty Finding the Right Fit
Therapy is not one size fits all. Finding a mental health professional that you are comfortable opening up to, and who understands your needs is key to treatment success. Consider age, gender, cultural background, spiritual philosophy, and competencies to increase the odds of a better fit.
Past experiences with a provider that was not a good fit may deter people from seeking help again.
Many therapists offer free consultations to determine whether or not their services are a good match for your needs. These consultations are completely confidential, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Use them as an opportunity to evaluate whether this is a person you feel comfortable discussing personal information with. A client’s relationship with their therapist evolves over time—what they might not have felt comfortable sharing on day one may be shared weeks or months later—however a base sense of safety and comfort should be felt from the beginning.
While the stigma surrounding seeking mental health support has decreased, it is still a barrier for some people seeking therapy. Professional, social, or even self-stigma can prevent people from seeking mental health treatment. There may be a fear of being seen as “weak” or “broken”. Some people may also feel like their problems are not large enough or important enough to need professional help.
Too often, employee benefits go untouched either because they don’t know what benefits are available to them or how to use them. Contact your benefits provider for more information, and don’t be afraid to use them; that’s what they are there for.
It is unfortunate that mental health goes untreated so often in Canada. No matter what problems employees may be facing, there is help available. Utilize the resources above to find the mental health support that is right for you, and let them know that their employee benefits also apply to their spouses and dependents.
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