Home Health Care What barriers are preventing patients from getting mental health services?

What barriers are preventing patients from getting mental health services?


New research from AbleTo, a New York City company that provides tech-enabled behavioral health solutions, takes a closer look at the obstacles preventing consumers from getting their mental health needs met.

The online survey was conducted between December 1, 2016, and January 30, 2017. Respondents included men and women 25 and older who were members of an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. More than half of them were living with one or more chronic medical condition.

The results reveal that patients see numerous barriers hindering them from seeking behavioral healthcare.

“The top barriers to treatment that were cited in the survey were cost, stigma and also, interestingly, uncertainty about what care really meant,” Heidi Mochari Greenberger, AbleTo’s senior director of clinical research, said in a phone interview.

Indeed, 27 percent of respondents said they worried that treatment would be too expensive. One-fourth said the stigma or society’s attitude toward mental health is an obstacle to treatment. Twenty-five percent said they were unsure if their condition is severe enough to seek treatment, and 20 percent said they feared having to take medication.

Other reasons people gave for not seeking assistance include a lack of time to go to counseling and uncertainty of whether therapy is covered by their health insurance.

Additionally, the research showed that patients consider heading to different sources to get mental health assistance. For instance, among patients aged 35 to 49, 52 percent said they’d first go to their primary care physician if they wanted help for anxiety, depression or stress. Only 17 percent said they’d go to a behavioral health professional, and 18 percent noted that they would go to a trusted family member or friend.

Overall, the survey results highlight the need to improve patient access, overcome barriers to treatment and integrate physical and mental healthcare.

“The research is really a reminder that we’ve come far, but we haven’t come far enough,” AbleTo CMO Reena Pande said in a phone interview. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but we have to put our heads together and overcome the remaining barriers.”

Photo: Professor25, Getty Images

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