I recently attended a webinar on Social Work's presence in Social Media. I learned about twitter and decided to set up an account. It has been a great place to connect with others who have similar interests in mental health and to get all sorts of new tidbits on news and research coming out about mental health. Here's my twitter address, in case you want to check it out or follow me! https://twitter.com/amberholtlcsw
As you all know, we had another mass shooting recently, this time close to home. Sadly, these incidents are becoming all too familiar. In the aftermath, questions are asked. Is this a gun issue? Is this a mental health issue? I only have to look at my Facebook feed to know that people are quite passionate about these issues, whatever their stance is. I am not here today to debate one side or the other or to provide solutions to a complex problem. I do want to begin a conversation however, about mental illness and violence. Spoiler alert—mental illness does NOT cause violence. Please inform yourselves, so that you can have the correct information when it comes to the relationship between mental health and violence.
What Americans Believe
Why We Believe It
What are the facts?
Why does it matter?
The next time you hear a report on the news, or have a conversation with a friend on this topic, if you notice that mental health is being blamed, maybe you can let the person know that mental illness does not cause violence. Thank you for doing your part in stopping the stigma surrounding mental health and violence.
Many people ask me why I don’t take insurance. I understand the concern, because who wants to pay for a service out of pocket when their insurance may cover a portion of the cost, right?
I have many reasons why I don’t take insurance, but here are the main ones.
When I worked in community mental health, a large part of my time was taken up during the day by billing and documentation. I understood that billing had to be done, but I always wished that I could just spend the extra time with clients instead of doing paperwork. Now that I have my own private practice, I can! Sure, I still have paperwork, but with a part-time schedule, I do not feel that I can take up much time doing billing and other insurance paperwork that is required, were I to accept insurance.
You deserve the best treatment
You deserve to have the best treatment possible. Insurance companies put restrictions on how many sessions you can have, what you can have sessions for, what type of therapy they will reimburse for, etc. For some people, they can fit into these requirements, and insurance works great. But for others, more flexibility is needed. I want you to be able to have as many sessions as you need, sessions for what you need, and with the type of therapy that will work best for you.
Insurance companies require diagnoses in order to reimburse for services. I do see value in this at times, but again, I don’t think it works for everyone. For example, what if you feel like you want to see a counselor, but you don’t have a billable “mental health diagnosis”? Your insurance won’t cover it! Or, what if you don’t want the counselor to provide a mental health diagnosis to your insurance company, where it will remain a part of your health record for the rest of your life? By seeing a counselor who doesn’t take insurance, you don’t have to worry about this issue.
So you may be wondering, can you afford to see me? The answer is most likely! There are several options.
I do see people under their EAP benefits (employee assistance program). If you have an employer who offers Cascade EAP services, you can see me for free, for as many sessions as your employer allows. Some people only need 3 to 6 sessions (usually the amount that are free under the benefit), and some people opt to continue seeing me after their benefit runs out. At that point, they pay out of pocket for service or use my sliding scale. When using EAP, it is confidential, your employer will not know that you used the service (they only know how MANY employees use the service), and no mental health diagnosis is required.
Out of network
If you do not mind a diagnosis going to your insurance company, you are welcome to submit a claim to your insurance company for an out of network benefit. I can provide you with a receipt with all of the information you need to submit to your insurance company. Many people’s insurance companies do reimburse for “out of network” providers, and I have some clients who use this option.
While my out of pocket prices are affordable (and in line with or below most therapist’s rates!), I do believe every person should have access to mental health treatment should they want it! Please contact me about my sliding scale if you are unable to afford my regular rates.
My online therapy rates are cheaper than my in person rates. So this is another thing to consider when you are trying to determine if in-person or online therapy is the best option for you!
Insurance questions and rates can be confusing. I hope this clears things up a bit. But, please let me know if you have any additional questions!
Short post today, because I am working on a challenge! Have you heard of the 40 bags in 40 days challenge? Getting rid of excess junk physically helps you to feel better mentally. I'm in! Who is going to join me?!
I recently came across this infographic on Pinterest, and thought I would share it. The pictures are of brain scans, showing the differences between people with a diagnosis vs. those without.
It is a good reminder that we need to take the stigma away from mental illness. So many of my clients share their stories about the shame of struggling with mental health challenges.
Sometimes, pictures like this help us to realize that what we are experiencing isn't something that is "made up," "annoying," or something one can just "get over" with the snap of a finger (wouldn't that be nice....).
The reality is that many of us struggle or have struggled with mental health challenges (including me!). 1 out of every 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness any given year. We are not alone. Help is available! There is hope.
Hope you all are having a great week!
Wow, 2015 already! Did you set any New Year's Resolutions? I don't really believe in those types of resolutions, because for me, they just haven't ever worked. If they work for you--that is fantastic, and keep on going on! If you have struggled with them, like me, perhaps it is because if we aren't ready to make a change that we need to make all year, why would we be ready just because the calendar has moved to January 1st? Making changes are hard. It is possible to make changes though, provided that we're are ready to make the changes and that we have the information and support needed to make the changes.
Maybe you want to stop smoking. You might think you are ready, but do you have the support needed, if you have other smokers in the house? Support could come in the form of family members, doctors, co-workers, etc.
Or, maybe you are ready to lose some weight. Again, it might work on your own; for some people it does. But, most likely, you are going to need the support of those around you in order for it to be successful.
The same goes for challenges with mental health. If we all could just have the mental health we desire all by ourselves, 1 in 5 people would not be struggling with a diagnosable mental illness. We need to be ready for change, yes. But we also need information, and we need support.
Getting assistance for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It means you are strong because you are taking care of yourself. So, talk with a loved one, a doctor, or a therapist. Seek out support groups if those would be helpful. Join a gym and workout with others. Think back to what in the past has improved your mental health, and try to incorporate some of these things back into your life now. You are worth it!
Wishing all of you strength, courage, and peace in the year to come. Happy New Year!
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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