Everyone has situations in their lives that bring them down and cause their mental health to decline. Some are very resilient and are able to pick themselves up on their own, but others need a bit of help from others and outside sources. This includes therapy and mental health care. Our mental health system has some phenomenal people in it who are ready to dedicate their time to help and treat others. The mental health care system includes therapy, prescriptions, inpatient care, and more. With good intentions, these programs and resources can be available to many individuals in need of them. But, unfortunately, they are not always easy to obtain.
Mental health care can be expensive, especially without insurance. Even with insurance, care can be limited. Psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists may need time to make a correct diagnosis. These mental health workers may also believe certain patients are not in need of any medication, but due to insurance purposes and time crunches, insurance companies may push for speedy diagnoses and also push for medication to be used. Insurance companies may refuse to cover something without prescriptions or diagnoses. This is very problematic because individuals seeking care may not need medication or meet the criteria for a diagnosis. This is where misdiagnosing and the overprescribing of medication can be real issues. It is cheaper and faster for insurance companies to have mental health providers prescribe medicine rather than providing therapy sessions. This means that someone just going through a hard time, such as having relationship problems or mourning a death, cannot receive treatment that insurance will be willing to cover. It is not fair for individuals to be stuck with a false diagnosis if they do not meet any criteria. Once someone is diagnosed with something, it is extremely hard to get rid of that title and stigma. Someone who is going through the death of a loved one may be stuck with a diagnosis of chronic depression or bipolar disorder when they meet no such criteria for such a diagnosis. This is hurtful towards the individual who needed and wanted to receive aid for a hard time in their life. This may turn people away from receiving such help, which could then result in the individual developing an actual mental illness and never receiving appropriate treatment. There is also an issue with people receiving medication instead of any therapy at all. Therapy sessions cost insurance companies a lot of money, so it is easier for them to push for a prescription instead.
Those who do have a mental illness and are in need of diagnosis to better understand themselves and receive the appropriate treatment are in danger as well. Insurance companies place a lot of pressure on mental health professionals to reach a diagnosis and conclusion quicker than they can give one. This leads to misdiagnosing and the individual receiving a treatment that is not helpful or that can actually be detrimental to the patient. Only so many sessions are covered by insurance companies before they demand a diagnosis to continue. If a diagnosis is not given in time, treatment becomes very expensive for the patient. If the patient cannot afford it, the patient is forced to stop treatment or be stuck with an incorrect diagnosis or a prescription that they do not need.
An example of this is giving kids with autism antipsychotics. There is no reason why children with autism should be on antipsychotics (usually used for patients who have schizophrenia). This is done as a chemical restraint, or in other words, a sedative for those with autism. Also, when patients are in need of a medication, the process of finding one that fits with their body can be difficult. If a patient is on medication for major depressive disorder and it is not working for them, instead of changing the medication altogether, it is common to keep adding more and more medications onto the patient. The combination of several medications can be harmful to the patient. The patient may not feel like themself or start developing even more symptoms of the disorder. More medications are added on because it is easier and quicker to add them rather than change them. Changing medication can take weeks upon weeks and insurance companies try to do things as fast as possible - even if it does not provide the most efficient treatment.
This happened to me when my medication was not working. Instead of changing it out, I was given multiple different kinds of medicines on top of the one that was not working for me. I was even given an antipsychotic called Risperdal when I did not need such medication. I am finally on a single medication that works for my depression, BPD, and PTSD, but it took way longer than it should have. During the time when I did not have the correct medication, I felt outside of myself and I did not act like I normally did. I was irritable, withdrawn, and greatly fatigued.
Things should not be this way. Insurance companies should not have to care about how much time it takes for someone to receive a correct diagnosis. Patients should be given as many therapy sessions as they need without having to worry about their insurance running out. There should not be such a push for medication. Mental health patients should be given adequate care without insurance companies interfering so often.
It may take a lot of fighting, but once I am in the mental health field, I will fight for my patients and their rights. I will fight to give them the care they need to get better. I will make sure I will do my best to give the aid and the care that I did not get as a patient myself. There are too many people who are in need of care that they should have a right to receive. Mental illness is serious and we need to treat it as such. As a mental health field as a whole, we need to do better.