In this economy it is getting increasingly difficult to take care of mental health needs. Medications are increasing in some respects, insurance not covering much, and all the little ‘extras’ that we have in our lives that keep our brains working well (gyms, vacations, etc.) seem to go by the wayside. Ironically, it is even more important than ever that in stressful times we keep our brain in tip top shape to ward off the stress that hard financial times bring.
So what are some strategies for reducing costs / maintaining mental health under tight budgets?
I’m going to share some tips with you, and ask that you share your cost savings strategies as well so that we all can benefit. Here are some things that I have found helpful, and I will explore each one in detail in the weeks to come:
1. Exercise: Gym memberships are often the first to go in hard economic times, yet there are proven benefits to exercise on mental health. (I find this especially true with ADHD — if I don’t get my cardio up / brain pumping the brain gets even more clogged.) Some alternatives to consider if you have to say goodbye to the gym:
- Use an exercise channel on TV — quite often they have free programs.
- Get an exercise video. (You can even rent from the library if you don’t want to buy.)
- Find a workout or walking buddy to help keep you motivated.
- If you are at a high-end gym, join a more affordable one (i.e. Bally’s has a gym plan that is $30/month nationwide — great for those that travel).
- Look on Craigslist for people giving away exercise equipment, and work out at home with a treadmill).
2. Medication: Medications are extremely expensive if you do not have insurance (or if you have big deductibles). Unfortunately, many people depend on these medications to manage their symptoms. Without these medications, symptoms return. So some strategies for affording medications in hard times?
- Check and see if your medication is available generic formula, and purchase it from a pharmacy that participates in $4 or $10 generic prescriptions. Wal-Mart and Target have such programs, and you can find lists of medications they carry go on their website. For instance, Wal-Mart has a listing here. Of course, you want to discuss this with your doctor first, but it is an option to consider.
- Some companies have prescription assistance programs; you can find out who manufactures your medication and check their website / call the 800-number.
- Often times you can get prescription discounts from your doctors; ask if they have any coupons.
3. Therapy: Therapy / support is also an extremely important in difficult financial times. Often even if you have insurance, only a small portion is covered, if any at all. This can be hard when you are struggling to pay the electric bills, so here are some thoughts on cost-saving strategies:
- Check and see if your therapist can do a reduced rate during this time.
- Skip out on coffee. The savings from the coffee alone can help pay for therapy!
- Find a support group in your area, and if there isn’t one around, start one.
- Research doctors that offer therapy online.
- Read books from the library, write, use self-help books as supplements to therapy if you have to reduce sessions.
These are just a few ideas, but should get you started if you have given up hope of getting help in hard economic times. There is always, hope. Remember that above anything and never give it up.