Mental illness and money

What’s on my mind? Mental illness and money

What a transition to high school it has been for our family.  Just when we think our son can’t surprise us with another unpleasant habit or friend or action, he does!  At the root of it is depression and anxiety, so we are trying to react with understanding, but it’s hard when we are so freaked out.


One thing I’m learning is that accessing mental health care takes a lot of time; so many meetings and appointments and trips to the drug store.  And then there is the money.  Most therapists don’t take insurance, so you are out of pocket there.  And, it takes at least one, but maybe 3 or more visits to decide if you are even seeing the right person.  No refunds there!


Similar to not liking your financial advisor, but that’s another column.


Getting referrals, understanding the different roles played by different professionals, and paying for it is tough enough when you have education and resources.  I can only imagine the difficulties of say, a non-English speaker earning minimum wage, doing their best to help their teenager through these issues.


What are some of the costs of mental illness?

Well, big picture, I found these stats at

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.10
  • 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.11
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.  (Kristi’s note, hospital stays are expensive!)


What about personally?

Generally, these stats were found on Google.

  • The typical cost of a therapy appointment is $150.
  • The average retail cost of a 30-day prescription of generic Prozac (Fluoexetine) is around $35.
  • The average retail cost of a 30-day prescription of generic Zoloft (sertraline) is about $50.
  • In-patient rehabs (mental illness and drug addiction are common friends) start at around $6,000 for a 30-day stay, ranging up to $60,000 for a 90-day stay (I think that’s where the Hollywood folks go. They seem to start at $12,000).


There you have it.  It doesn’t pay to get sick, but since mental illness is not considered as important as heartburn or weird looking moles, it’s even worse.


One resource that has been helpful is the school counseling center and school based medical centers.  We’ve been able to see great providers for free and it’s convenient.  So, not all bad news.  Also, free meditation and yoga apps have been very helpful for trying to maintain Mom’s sanity!


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