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Would you know where to turn for funds to pay for mental health treatment? Would you know who to ask for referrals or information on federally funded programs? If not, you are not alone because many families and caregivers struggle with this. Sadly, thousands of families become discouraged during the first year of searching for programs to help pay for mental health treatment services or services for those with intellectual disabilities (formerly called MR-Mental Retardation). After a certain period of time searching for funds to pay down costs, families get discouraged by the multiple resources thrown at them and the millions of programs that have either:

  1. closed by a certain date,
  2. require loads of paperwork,
  3. doesn’t provide long-term stability,
  4. offers minimal financial support, and
  5. requires a legal guardian or mentally competent individual to apply (making it difficult for foster parents, extended family, or those under age to apply).

 

Federal Programs & the barriers they cause 

Federally funded programs are often the most difficult and most stigmatized programs to apply for. Unfortunately, programs such as Medicaid, Food Stamps/Welfare, or Housing Choice Programs (section 8) have developed a bad name for themselves due to their business administration, poor practices, steep requests, and lowered standards. As a result, the majority of society has created barriers for people who need these programs and these barriers create within themselves a lack of opportunity for well-meaning people who are mentally or physically disabled, emotionally impaired, are suffering from developmental disabilities such as autism or mental retardation/intellectual disabilities, or are simply down on their financial luck. While it is understandable that the majority of society does not want to deal with the problems that sometimes occur with people relying on federal funds, we must be careful not to discriminate or create barriers based on limited information about those needing these programs.

Because of unwarranted social stigma and multiple barriers, individuals, families, and caregivers often refuse to apply for the above programs and miss out on opportunities that could save them money and help them regain independence. In other cases, barriers created by discrimination or refusal to work with federally funded programs, causes systemic sluggishness and indifference.

 

4 ways around financial barriers

In other cases, some people just don’t know where to turn for federally funded and other programs that offer help to individuals in need. Here is a listing of avenues that might be helpful to you:

  1. Learn about Medicaid Waivers:  Medicaid Waivers are used by the state you live in to help pay for services that people with disabilities need. States can use Medicaid funds to pay for services which are provided in the community as opposed to institutions. You can go to www.medicaid.gov or www.cms.gov for further information. Email or call to inquire.
  2. Learn about Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PADs): Although the use of PADs in mental health facilities can be tricky, it is important to learn all you can about them. PADs offer many families the option of putting their wishes down in writing, legally. The good part about PADs is that a loved one can document (and have notarized) how they want to be treated in the event of an emergency/crisis or mental incompetence. To learn more, visit the National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advanced Directives for state by state information. http://www.nrc-pad.org/state-by-state
  3. Learn about Government Programs that pay for medication: Do you find that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to pay for medications? If so, I encourage you to learn about federal programs that offer help paying for prescription medication. Organizations such as NeedyMeds or RxAssist can help you. Find out more by clicking here.
  4. Try the SSA’s Benefits tool: The Social Security Administration offers what is called a “Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool” that you can use online to help you determine if you qualify for Social Security Disability funds. This may be useful to use before time consuming paperwork. Applying for a child? Click here.

 

Seeking ways to pay for mental health treatment, counseling services, behavior management classes, or medications is always a tricky endeavor.

Want more information?

If you’d like to learn more about national programs, federally funded agencies, and other useful resources, stay tuned for my book coming out in April of 2014!

 

I wish you all the best
Photo Credit: Stuart Miles