Curbing Mental Health Costs

Each year, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health problem. The most common mental health problems are anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.

Mental healthcare can be costly. Even for people with health insurance. Medicines for these conditions can be costly. Also, therapist charges per counseling session vary. Costs depend on where you live, the therapist's level of training, and their experience.

What to think about

These tips can help control your costs while you get the help you need:

  • Check your coverage. Health insurance companies vary in what they pay for mental health treatment. Some plans cover everything except the copay per session. This is after a deductible is met. Other plans place dollar limits on outpatient programs. And leave inpatient programs intact. Sometimes an insurance company limits the type and extent of mental health treatment it will pay. They may limit the amount of money paid to providers. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you plan your finances.

  • Choose a provider who is in your network. Out-of-network providers can cost a lot more. Call your insurance company to confirm your network providers.

  • Ask for a price break. Some therapists offer a sliding-scale fee schedule for people based on income.

  • Look into your community's mental health centers. Local governments often fund public resources. These include community mental health centers.

  • Think about group therapy. Group sessions often cost much less than individual therapy.

  • Try complementary therapies. Yoga, meditation, massage, and other alternative therapies may provide relief for stress-related conditions.

Prescription medicines

To reduce the amount you pay for prescription medicines:

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you can switch to a lower-cost generic. Or a less costly brand.

  • Ask your healthcare provider for samples of the medicines you take.

  • Check out mail order and online pharmacies. Sometimes these pharmacies can fill your prescription at a large savings. Be sure to check a company's reputation and service guarantees before using your credit card.

  • Check with the pharmaceutical company that makes your medicine. The company may offer payment assistance.

  • Some states and counties offer prescription assistance programs. Contact your National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) state organization. They can help you find out if there’s a local assistance program. For more information, visit the NAMI website, email them at, or call 800-950-6264.

  • Your state’s Medicaid program may have information about prescription assistance programs or discount programs.

Finally, find out if your company has an employee assistance program. Confidential mental health help may be available onsite or through an associated provider at no cost to you.


Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
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