The concept of the “mental health day” is taking hold, for example, while the federal government has approved various measures in recent years to ensure mental health concerns are covered by health insurance providers. Meanwhile, numerous apps are coming to market that are designed to help sufferers mitigate their issues or to even chat with counselors on-demand.
Even if you don’t suffer from mental health issues, staying on top of your mental health can be an important component of self-care. Here are three strategies for nurturing your mental health in 2020.
1. Take advantage of insurance coverage for mental health (where available)
If you’re suffering from one or more mental health issues, your first option should be to consult your health insurance provider. Many private employers offer coverage for various mental health concerns, while Marketplace insurance plans all provide coverage of different sorts. Specifically, you should consult your insurance provider if you need help with:
- Behavioral health (ADHD, anxiety, depression, addiction, mood disorders etc.)
- Substance use disorder (opioids or other addictive substances)
- Other mental health disorders
Thanks to changes in the law in the past two decades, your insurance provider likely covers these concerns to some degree. One major precedent for this is the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This law requires most insurance providers to offer coverage for mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse disorders in parity with their physical health coverage.
That said, only 43% of Americans with a mental illness receive treatment. Gaps in insurance coverage are partially to blame, but so is a shortage of mental health providers as well as the lingering stigma. If you find that you’re struggling with a mental health issue, you should schedule time with a counselor or service that provides coverage as early as possible.
2. Use a mental healthcare app
A modern solution is starting to emerge that helps mitigate the problematic mental health provider shortage. Many startups now offer apps that provide both self-care and professional care, right through your phone.
Depending on the type of mental health issues you have, you may want to explore at least one or more of these apps. For some people who suffer with mental health issues, these apps may also help reduce stress associated with locating and physically going to a counselor or mental health services provider (although in some cases, you may still need to seek more extensive professional assistance).
Mental health apps can help target a variety of issues, including teens suffering from depression, and stress management. There are also apps that connect users with health-care professionals in real-time.
Some of the best-rated apps on the market for mental health concerns include:
- Calm: Stress relief and meditation app
- BetterHelp: Therapy app that allows users to text or speak to licensed therapists
- Daylio: A mood tracking app that makes it easy to keep a private journal of your mood and habits
The non-profit organization Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers a longer list of recommended apps for anxiety and depression management.
3. Take care of your financial stress
Financial stress is a major trigger for other mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. In fact, one 2019 survey found that those suffering from financial stress are three times more likely to suffer from panic attacks. People under financial duress are also four times more likely to suffer from suicidal thoughts and depression.
If your income or financial management is causing stress, it’s important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. Financial therapy is a good solution to consider. And while your insurance provider may not cover the cost of a financial coach or financial therapist, your employer just might. The study on financial stress also found that workers who consistently stress about their finances lose up to one month per year of productivity.
In addition to considering a financial therapist or advisor, you may want to consider budgeting apps that help you get a better handle on your finances. There are also self-directed financial courses that could help you find some financial stability and work your way out of debt.
Any route you take that helps you reduce your financial stress is a good one.
Your mental health is as important as physical health
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Don’t ignore it. If you need professional assistance, use the resources at your disposal to get the help you need, as soon as you need it. Whether you’re managing stress with an app, seeing a doctor to get prescriptions for chronic depression and anxiety, or talking to a financial counselor to get your finances in order, mental healthcare can be well worth the investment.