Good Therapy has reported
that counseling can cost anywhere from $60 to $250 or more per session, with insurance covering some or none of those expenses
. There are resources for the poor, and the rich can afford it; but those in the middle can struggle to access care, experts say.
Even if money isn’t an obstacle, time sometimes is a barrier. Zeller said that when the couple sought counseling for her husband, several of the therapists they contacted said it would be months before they could slot him for a session.
Alaina Rachelle Stanley, a crisis response counselor at Baptist Behavioral Health, said that some therapists cannot accommodate new clients for as much as six months out. “A lot of the calls I’m getting, especially with the teenagers, is [about] depression and suicidal ideation,” she said.
Angling to improve access to care are such organizations as Here Tomorrow, which pays for therapy for clients needing such assistance and pairs clients with state-certified peer specialists, who are diagnosed with mental illnesses, or have cared for a loved one with mental illness, but are thriving. When a person calls Here Tomorrow, a peer specialist contacts that person within 24 hours and helps steer that person into counseling.
Here Tomorrow Executive Director Hannah Hackworth, a licensed clinical social worker who started her career in an in-patient clinic two decades ago, recalled what ran through her mind, in 2016, when she launched Here Tomorrow.
“I remember having this thought going through my mind, you know, ‘Wow, nothing’s changed in 20 years. Here I am back on the in-patient unit,’” she said.
The experience ultimately inspired her to launch the nonprofit, which opened its doors in January.
Jeff Yalden, Here Tomorrow’s community outreach director, said the agency wants to normalize the conversation about mental health and meet people where they are, be it over the phone, on the computer or in person.
“If someone is showing suicidal ideation, you don’t want to leave them alone,” Yalden said.
Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, which also employs peer specialists, is seeking to expand services that improve continuity of care. Last year, Lutheran received an $800,000 federal grant intended to prevent suicides during the pandemic. Through that grant, Lutheran and its partners, which include the Mental Health Resource Center, Hubbard House, Changing Homelessness and local hospital emergency departments, hired care coordinators to assist people deemed at increased risk of suicide attempts, including those experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, as they navigate the mental health system.
“The goal of these calls is to have the individual who is in crisis to deescalate that crisis and … to get them the help they need,” Lutheran’s Cauffield said.
Since that program launched in the fall of 2020, there has been a 35% drop in hospitalizations among the roughly 200 persons-in-crisis who comprise 15% of the population that Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems serves, Cauffield said. Visits to the emergency room, detoxification from substance abuse and crisis care also have dropped in this population. “We have an average recidivism rate of around 3%, which is absolutely unheard of in the industry.”
That federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant financed a 16-month program
at Lutheran Services. And Cauffield said the nonprofit is applying for more underwriting of its endeavors. “We’d love to have more funding to be able to wrap our arms around a greater percentage of our high utilizers.”