6 Important Reasons Why People Don’t Get Mental Health Treatment

The Scope of the Problem

Barriers to mental health treatment abound in the United States. The nature of these barriers is varied. Some involve people seeking but unable to obtain services. Others involve a failure to seek services. In combination, these obstacles result in a large proportion of those in need of mental healthcare not getting it.

For example, a 2008 study examined mental health problems in a large sample of military members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study found that only around half of those veterans with depression and PTSD sought help for these problems. Unfortunately, the corresponding statistics for non-veterans are no better. Why is that?

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Buddhism and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Buddhism and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are very different ways of understanding people. They were developed thousands of years apart, in different hemispheres. Yet they don’t conflict as much as you would think.

“In the words of the Buddha, … ’We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.’ It’s an idea that’s in line with current thinking in psychology. In fact, this simple philosophy – that changing the way we think can change the way we feel – underpins the practice of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), an approach widely used in clinical psychology and counseling, as well as stress management programs.” So writes Kathy Graham, in a thoughtful article on Buddhism and happiness.

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Is your therapy really helping?

previous posting on my other blog discussed the recent controversy over “effective” psychotherapy. A more recent article in the LA Times outlines the two sides of the debate. Regardless of what you think about this controversy, one important message to take away is that it’s important to consider whether your therapy is helpful. That may sound obvious, but whatever the reasons you sought therapy to begin with, it can be helpful to periodically ask yourself whether you feel that things are tangibly changing for you. If not, have a frank discussion with your therapist — a good therapist will share your desire for tangible meaningful change and would welcome such a discussion.

Mental Health Parity Law

With the recent passage of the federal bailout of the financial industry, a groundbreaking piece of legislation was passed that will significantly affect mental healthcare in the U.S. This bill stipulates that mental health conditions must receive the same insurance coverage as physical health conditions. Thus, treatment for schizophrenia or OCD will not be covered with different annual limits, co-payments, and deductibles than those for, say, arthritis.

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