Get Well

Ask Chinae: ‘What Do I Do When I Can’t Afford Therapy?’

by Chinae Alexander

It’s time we start talking about mental health more. I received so many questions in my private inbox about this subject and it just proved to me further that there are not enough conversations around this topic. I hope these answer some of your most pressing mental health queries but most importantly, I hope it helps open the conversation in our community here at The Chill Times.

What are the best ways you can prevent panic/anxiety attacks when you feel them coming on? –@rochellefp

As a person who started fainting and injuring herself in public because of panic, I would say you need to seek professional help to navigate what you need and to understand the severity of the problem. I never thought of myself as a person who would ever have to take medication for panic (I never experienced it outside of a six-month period) but having the medication on me actually prevented me from further panic. The point is, you don’t know what you need and that’s okay. We would never shame someone who was having physical pain from getting a professional opinion. That person could need something as simple as an ice pack but could also need something as serious as surgery. Mental health is the same. Your mental health professional should be able to assist you in coming up with a plan for dealing with panic and anxiety…whether that’s medication or not.

What do I do when I can’t afford therapy? – Many people

There are so many affordable options for therapy these days which is a godsend in the fight toward ending mental health stigma because more people seeking help can lead to people feeling less afraid to ask for help. Most therapists offer a sliding scale based on your income level or financial bandwidth. When you are calling offices, the receptionist will easily be able to tell you if a sliding scale is available for patients seeking treatment. And if you’re using the Therapist Finder tool on Psychology Today, they have a notation on pricing and if a sliding scale is offered. There are also a lot of new low-cost tech options like text therapy or Skype therapy.

Is medication always the answer? – Many people

Not always but sometimes it’s the only way. As we lessen our societal stigma around therapy, we also have to lessen our stigma around medication, too. I think everything should start with talk therapy and go from there!

When someone tells you that they’re struggling with anxiety, what is the best way to react? – @taylordemetriou

Always the first answer is being a non-judgmental listener. Instead of launching into advice, ask more questions. Dig back deep into the experiences and struggles you’ve had and share them openly. Not what you did that helped, just sharing the experience itself. The best thing is to steer clear of giving advice unless you’re asked. Instead of telling someone they need to get therapy, perhaps ask if they have thought of avenues they would feel comfortable going down to seek help. Ask what you can do to help them feel supported. Perhaps even ask how often they want you to check in with them about this, sometimes always being asked if you’re okay gets tiring but the opposite isn’t the answer either. Let them guide you in how you can best be of help. You don’t have to have all the answers.

How do you navigate a healthy relationship when your partner is struggling? -@annnnamark

I’ve experienced this more than once and I can say, it TOTALLY depends on the help your partner is willing to seek beyond you. You can be a healthy supporter but you cannot be responsible for being a fix to someone’s struggle. In my past relationships, I would experience such guilt in not being able to help the other person, therefore damaging my own self-worth and creating anxiety. I compare it to a dentist walking into open heart surgery. You’d never fault the dentist for not knowing how to fix the person on the operating table, so why do we feel so bad about failing our loved ones when that was never our job? I’ve learned my job as a partner is to support their journey, encourage habits that help them, and to listen. There’s no responsibility beyond that.

What’s the best way to get someone to seek help if they don’t think they need it? -@nikkeemarie

This is a tough one because it’s extremely difficult to change people’s behavior when they don’t feel empowered to change it themselves. I think the best thing you can do is to open a conversation about how the person is feeling and dealing with the issues at hand and leaving an open line of communication about it when they are ready.

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Feature image via Chinae Alexander

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