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What’s Standing in the Way of Improved Mental Health for All?

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Most people experience mental health challenges from time to time. However, the signs of a problem aren’t always obvious. Common indicators are stress, insomnia, anxiety, or depression—conditions millions of people suffer silently through each day.

With all of the qualified professionals and tech-based solutions available, it is easier than ever to get mental health help. So what is holding people back from doing it? In this article, we examine the biggest barriers to obtaining widespread mental health care.


Stigma is just another word for shame. Historically, social stigma around getting mental health care has been very isolating for people with even the most common mental health struggles. Years ago, it could have led to anything from gossip to social isolation and loss of job security.

The last decade has seen much progress on this front. Not so long ago, there was a severe negative connotation to seeking assistance with a mental health condition. However, much has changed over the last several decades. Stigma isn’t a thing of the past, but more people are opening up about their mental health concerns.

It is worth mentioning that stigma does still exist within certain cultural contexts— often based on religious or other traditional understandings of what it means to need mental health care.

Lack of Awareness

A lack of awareness about the need for mental health help takes several forms. With so many people experiencing mental health issues, it can be easy to dismiss your troubles as a normal part of life.

This is particularly common for working people. Nearly 70% of people describe work as being a significant source of stress in their life. Another 40% report that work creates anxiety that bleeds into other aspects of their life, including personal relationships.

And 23% say that work gives them feelings of depression. When most of the population struggles with some aspect of mental health, it’s easy to dismiss your own concerns as a necessary part of living.

Some people may not know that help’s an option. If you’ve never gotten mental health help before, and you don’t know anyone else who has, seeking assistance may never occur to you.

Both of these concerns have lessened somewhat. There are many public outreach campaigns designed to make people more aware of mental health resources, including this website.

Many workplaces are making that same push, providing employees with free mental health resources to help reduce work-related stress.


Cost is a barrier to care that is still far from being solved. Almost half of all Americans who do not receive the mental health care they need cite this as the reason. While insurance may cover some mental health care, services are often limited, resulting in high out-of-pocket expenses. These services may also be of lesser quality or in hard-to-access locations.

The average cost of a therapy session in the United States ranges between $100-200, depending on where you live. That’s just basic talk therapy. More involved forms of mental health care can result in significantly higher treatment bills.

There are ways to find affordable care. For example, some counseling centers provide reduced-cost services for people willing to see student interns under clinical supervision. Various online resources may be available at a reduced cost (more on that later).

Still, a person without health insurance will probably not be able to afford private mental health care in the United States, regardless of the available resources.

Geographic Isolation

Let’s say a rural county in Wyoming has one mental health professional operating in the area. A reasonable number considering the county seat has only six thousand people. The other “nearby” towns fall substantially short of that number.

The problem? This one professional is servicing 500 square miles. For residents that don’t have consistent access to transportation, this can make seeking mental health assistance next to impossible.

In cities, there are dozens of therapists to choose from. In rural America, it’s a very different scenario. Some towns may not have licensed healthcare professionals at all. Those that do may still lack the ability to treat the wide range of mental health concerns that a community might face.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. Telehealth services make it easier than ever to access care regardless of where you find yourself.

Not only is this good for people living in a region with limited resources, but it also gives the wider population a wider variety of options. Now, it is easier than ever to find a professional who specializes in the exact thing you are trying to address.


As public health issues go, it’s fair to say there is progress in the normalization of mental health care. While barriers to access that keep many from receiving the treatment they need remain, the situation is improving. We have come a long way in the past fifty years.

That said, some barriers will only fall with a concerted social effort and legislative action. If you are interested in improving mental health for all, you need to find out what movements are taking place in your community to make care more accessible and affordable and get involved with them.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialists can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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About the Author: Sarah Daren has been a startup consultant in multiple industries, including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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