Mental Health Costs

Letter: Dear Lakewood Scoop,

I’m addressing this letter to you because you seem to be proactive in requesting mental health professionals to step forward and share their contact information to help those that are struggling.

I’m pretty sure that every 3rd house per block has an individual that is struggling emotionally or mentally. Yes we need to destigmatize getting therapy and psychiatric help.

But I’m going to bring up an issue that comes up again and again here, for good reason. Many people that don’t get the proper help they really need is because the absolutely prohibitive cost involved. Yes, there are a few free resources for those that qualify, but unfortunately, especially when it comes to more severe or complicated situations, a higher level professional is needed and that means thousands upon thousands of dollars that individuals don’t have. Going for help alone can cause mental strain or breakdown if you aren’t financially comfortable.

We are talking starting at $150 per session if you’re lucky and some up to $750 per meeting… maybe even more.

I can only speak for myself but I’m sure I am speaking for others too. People avoid getting the proper help due to costs involved.

True, like a severe medical situation, the top Dr’s charge prohibitively. But we have the most amazing organizations such as RCCS that make sure the patient doesn’t have to worry about the medical bills.

As far as I know, while there are great organizations to direct and bring awareness to mental health resources, I’m unaware of an RCCS-like organization for mental health care.

The orgs I have spoken to have told us they don’t cover the funds and that you need to raise them on your own.

I reached out to a program for an intense emotional / mental rehabilitation and the cost was beyond means for the person to get help. The program said you need to find your own sponsors. Translate that for most people as avoiding getting the help.

I had needed some help myself for a program for an issue I was struggling with. The program costed $6000. Suffice it to say I didn’t get that help either.

The stigma has been lightened and more people would be willing to get emotional and mental support. But the free ones don’t work for everyone or aren’t available to everyone and without an active organization that helps fund these things or without prices of therapists and professionals being attainable for the average Lakewood frum family barely making ends meet being lowered excessively as it’s a weekly expense, I just don’t see how many people are going to get the help they need.

I am giving the shout out to RCCS because I have family members that had to use their services and the way that they make the families be able to get through the crisis in a bekavidik way is so above and beyond. If only we could start an RCCS for mental health problems. (I have no ties to the org.)

Food for thought for the next askanim to be that would like to make a real dent in our community.

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  1. I totally agree with the writer, there needs to be a large scale organization which deals with mental health, without the person needing to worry about costs.

  2. Excellent point. Hopefully an organization will be formed and meet with much success. One issue that will need to be addressed is how to quantify what constitutes needing intervention? The illness addressed by many wonderful organizations has a name and either one is stricken ר”ל or not. Same with other physical illnesses.

  3. Agree wholeheartedly with the letter writer. Many years ago I called a therapist who was recommended to us, seeking help for one of our chidren. The secretary told me it was $500 per session. I was forced to go elsewhere to a much lower level therapist (who still charged about $125 or $150 per session which adds up quickly) who did little to nothing in helping my child.
    Another important note is that with any other doctor or specialist, they accept and bill health insurance. As far as I am aware, no therapists (even psychiatrists who are MDs) accept health insurance. Changing this alone would provide tremendous relief and make the needed services more affordable.

    • Recently, I noticed advertisements from multiple organizations offering services which seemed to be competing with each other. I assume the organizations are ONLY looking to help out the Klal and just ran out of ideas. So let me say it this way. Att organizations: if you are looking to expand your chesed etc. instead of encroaching upon another organizations services, here is a brand new idea….
      Your welcome!

  4. Those with severe mental illness need top psychiatric care, which is not really available in Lakewood. That translates into top dollar, and also travelling expenses, to get to Manhattan (and plenty of time.) I would just like to make mention, that while the doctors in Lakewood may charge less, they also make you come in much more often. They cannot take the medication risks that a top doctor is able to take, so they monitor you much more frequently. So, the cost might even out in the end. Food for thought… Anyway, I believe that the cost factor is the leading reason to why people don’t pursue their issues early enough.

  5. As a local psychiatrist (I live in Lakewood, but do not practice in Lakewood). I have been impressed by the care at CHEMED and LCSC. You mention paying $750 for a “top doctor.” There’s no such thing as a Top Doctor, not anymore than there is a Top Rabbi or Top School.

    A good doctor is a good doctor. I’m always suprised to see people being referred to “experts” in NY charging exhorbitant rates, when there are plenty of psychiatrists in this part of NJ who will do as good of, or better, a job. A few take insurance, and the ones that don’t, will charge much less than $750. I try talking with the referall agencies, but they remained impressed by people billing themselves as “experts” working in Manhattan.

    Having worked with many of these local psychiatrists, as well as the NY “Top Doctors,” I can assure you, there’s no difference in the care.

    • I beg to differ.
      A relative of mine was being medicated for a mental disorder by a regular local Dr.
      Suffice it to say it was a disaster.
      Now that relative is under the care of a better Dr. From NY and is more regulated, more followed up on, and doing so much better.
      I don’t think that local Dr’s are incompetent but I do find from our experience we didn’t have what we needed.
      And the costs are out of hand.

  6. The top doctors (generally speaking) are only top in their level of arrogance and their cost.

    A good psychiatrist or psychologist is one who connects well with their patient and addresses the person not their diagnosis.

  7. This is a really important topic. Yes, there are top schools and top rabbis. They are where you go for top-notch education and guidance. But can’t the therapists and doctors take regular insurance? Why are they all only in private practice??

  8. There are many therapists who do take health insurance. However, it is true that for specialized cases, you’ll want someone who takes private pay, and that can be extremely expensive.

  9. Why the explosion of mental health issues in our community? Is it truly every 3rd family on the block? What is fueling this uptick in mental health issues and how can we address the root cause? Because sending people to therapy doesn’t seem to be helping. It just seems to be getting worse. If we had an obesity epidemic where every third family on the block had an obese family member, wouldn’t we look into the food we were serving or the exercise we were neglecting instead of immediately looking into doctors and surgeons and pills?

    • There is an obesity epidemic and there are many ways people address it depending on their values: exercise, nutrition, fad diets and of course the recent Ozempic craze.
      Hashem made people complex. We are not angels. No one is perfect. However, we live in a cookie cutter generation where if you don’t fit into a box you are labeled as strange. The society pressure to conform is the boiling pot exploding into a mental health crisis. In previous generations, the woman’s job was to cook and raise the children. Nowadays, they are expected to also be out of the house 9-5 to work. Something has to give. It is not natural for a woman to do a man’s job. That was part of the Shibud Mitzrayim where men did women’s job and women did men’s job. They suffered and cried and were ultimately redeemed. People are suffering and crying in silence. They are embarrassed to show that they can’t juggle everything at once. We are also still survivors of the trauma of the holocaust, called generational trauma its effects still being felt in the parenting of the homes. Schools and colleges don’t teach parenting skills and many adults are survivors of childhood trauma. In previous generations, multi generational families lived together and supported each other. Now, a newly married couple is expected to start off alone 3,000 miles away from home. This is not natural, this is supernatural and not manageable for most people.

    • Clearly your wearing the wrong pair of glasses or you have the wrong prescription. Your blind to what is going on in the community and the world at large. BH you don’t struggle with these things it seems, but don’t ever try to put judgment on those that do. Yes it’s rampant in out community and yes therapy gets to the route of the problem and yes we are trying ever so hard to break the cycle, but cost and money or lack there of gets in the way and untill we come up with funding, the cycle will continue and spiral out of control. I struggle with anxiety and see my son struggling also, if only I had the funds to get the proper help I need, it’s such severe anxiety that even just meds don’t help, and I’m terrified my son will turn out the same. It’s all about the money. If I had the money I wld do it. I have to feed and cloth my children and make sure they have a roof over their head, and after that, the bank is empty. Not sure how that cycle can discontinue……..

    • It’s not just in our community, it’s in the entire country. Our community is limited to using only Frum therapists so the cost is rising & were feeling the effects. The demand for experienced clinicians has outstripped supply no different than the cleaning ladies that have raised their prices.
      The only solution is to offer scholarships to qualified candidates so that many more people enter the field. The cost will stabilize once the supply is balanced with demand.

  10. You can go on Alma and Headway and find some amazing therapists who take insurance.

    A few words about “top therapists” This is unfortunately a Jewish scam. You need to find a therapist who is trained and practices the modality needed for your condition. If someone is trained in that modality and connects with the patient they are great. “Top” is just an ego concept you need a provider who is trained and practices the modality needed

    • I agree. A name of a practitioner may spread by word-of-mouth and suddenly there’s a ‘name’ who’s considered ‘top’ and people will ‘only go there’ and try to ‘push in’. Sometimes they really are an excellent practitioner and sometimes they’re not too good! I’ve seen both!
      Experience and a good word-of-mouth reference are very important, but there may be many less-known and less-expensive people who are excellent and exactly what you need.
      It seems to me that the same people who are skeptical of therapy and don’t understand emotional issues are the ones who say, “but if you do go to someone, you must go to the ‘top’!” Not sure why.

    • Yes, I am seeing a therapist now who was taken off the list because some clients complained about her. She is doing wonders for me and not ripping money out of my pocket. Some pple complained that her method made their mental health worse, ex their trauma memories and stuff….no therapist can cause that, that is what therapy is all about!! Opening up wounds and burns and healing them!! This therapist has so much knowledge, patience and care and understanding and has helped me tons, even though my burns are on fire and my wounds are swollen! This is what healing is! Yes I am going crazy, and yes she has to work a little harder for me, but that’s her job and she’s doing it well!! I always asked not to put her name but I am so grateful for her

  11. It’s a great point. Certainly there can be more focus on this issue. And I happen to think many therapists do charge too much ( most of the ones that charge excessive fees are probably not worth going to. They are business people who happen to be therapists). Couple of points: I agree with the point that the Psychiatrist made. People have to get past the mostly inaccurate idea that if someone is located far away and charges a fortune, they are amazing. Not at all. Sometimes the better move is to go with a therapist who has not been in the field for 50 years. There are excellent therapists in Chemed, LCSC and there are more therapy centers opening by the day. And there are some therapists in town who don’t charge a fortune and are excellent.
    A local therapist

  12. The real question should be asked of the insurance companies. They don’t recognize things the way people do and thus don’t pay for the vast majority of therapy.

  13. I had to take one of my children for a psych eval. I could not take her to Chemed because she is not a Chemed patient and I was not interested in switching away from my current pediatrician, who I am quite happy with. I also could not afford the wait time that it would take until she could be seen. In the end I took her to a psych NP who did not take insurance. She charges $600 for the initial consult and $300 for follow-up sessions. She recommended that my daughter see a therapist (at $200 per session), as well as a mentor (at $100 per session). Neither take insurance. This is for a very common, minor condition. So yes, on paper it looks like there are resources out there, but in practicality they don’t work for most people for one reason or another. And by the way, when I say they don’t take insurance I don’t mean Jersey Care. I mean any insurance. I have a fairly good, private insurance that is well accepted in all other fields of medicine, aside for mental health.

    • That can help 7% of those in need. Somehow other organizations raise enough money to help 100% of those who reach out. And even if there was subsidizing and not paying in full, that would help tremendously. I am seeking treatment in a rehab facility that cost 50K. Where is the money coming from? I can barely pay my rent! Oh but if it was cancer and I needed a 50k surgery, I would have no worries, it’s all covered!

  14. I feel bad to be the one to bring this up… however there is a big difference between physical illness and mental illness. And that is that with physical illness you either recover and the funds are no longer needed or unfortunately the person passes away and the funds are no longer needed. With mental illness unfortunately its usually a lifelong issue that needs help. Collecting for an organization with a black hole at the bottom where the needs are never ending or stopping is extremely different.
    So yes RCCS is an amazing organization with a HUGE BUDGET. But I can’t imagine such an organization For mental health can be sustainable.

    • Yes you are right.
      Sometimes it is a temporary problem but often there’s an ongoing need.
      There’s no easy solution.

    • Wow. I beg to differ. Someone with cancer can have cancer for 15 years. Someone with mental health can get treated and be much better after 2-3 years if taken care of well. Someone with cancer can die after 6 months and someone with mental health can go to a rehab for 30 days, go to therapy for a year and do great. Same bottomless pit of funds. It’s a cycle of no funding that is making pple with mental health not get the proper treatment so they don’t need long term treatment.

    • Are you saying that people born with chronic illnesses like CP, blindness, heart defects, Crohn’s disease, and any lifelong ailment isn’t covered by insurance and just die early r”l? Please visit your local doctor’s office and ask him how many chronic patients he treats. You are so very wrong. Please educate yourself before making hurtful statements about people suffering from mental health and the treatment that is available at no cost to them.

    • The average cost of a hospital stay PER DAY in New Jersey is $3,157. That’s close to 100k PER MONTH.

      A YEAR of weekly therapy comes out to 10k, give or take.

  15. I absolutely agree with the letter writer. This has been a long time issue. I just want to add one clarification. When you ask a therapist why they charge such high fees, they will say it’s because of the schooling and ongoing credentials they need to keep up. Now imagine someone is in need of a doctor, whether for a minor strep test or a broken bone. Imagine if doctors charged $150-$750 a visit. There will be people avoiding treatment and walking around with disfigured limbs and disease.
    Mental health treatment in hospitals and outpatient clinics is covered by most insurances because the government recognizes that mental health is as important as physical health. For some reason, some professionals view it as not equivalent to physical health and expect their clients somehow to come up with the doctors fees out of pocket when they have the ability to accept insurance payments but don’t want to deal with the billing. This is where things need to change. It is unacceptable to expect people who need help to come up with these fees. There is a simple solution if only people would ask for it more.

    • From the comments here, it appears a typical private insurance does Not cover you for your mental health issues. You need to start advocating your elected officials to have mental health be considered an essential coverage which every policy will be required to cover. The issue of coverage is evidently a national one!

  16. I wonder if any of the local practices do a certain number of clients at reduced rates. Some “top” places in other parts of the country often set aside a certain number of hours a week to see patients at much lower fee as a way of reaching a larger democratic.
    In addition, there are many insurance companies that will cover a certain amount of the therapy if u know how to submit and work with the company. Are there any organizations in the city that help ppl navigate their insurance ?
    Lastly, unfortunately this is a difficult reality in life that services cost real money and sometimes people suffer from not getting the help they want or need – think delapitated house, not getting cleaning help, not getting good speech or OT or reading services- due to lack of funds. It’s a painful reality.
    The only thing I can garantee is that HKBH will listen to ur tefilos and He is truly Kol Yachol. He is listening.

  17. NJ has a fund known as:

    Catastrophic illness in children relief fund

    Qualifications can be found on the internet or by calling (800)335-3863

  18. There is a difference between physical and mental health.
    physical does not need the person to put in work where as mental health does require alot of work by that individual.
    When someone does not pay for there own mental health care they may tend to not put in the work they are required to.

  19. The reason why most therapists don’t take insurance is because insurance doesn’t pay or if they do pay, they pay abysmally low rates. Insurance companies make billions and billions of dollars on the back of consumers who need medical and mental healthcare. All insurance companies do is move money. They collect money and premiums and pay out money and benefits. That’s why they take their time not to pay and when they do pay, they pay very little. The whole system in this country needs to be overhauled I worked in the medical field and found that Insurance companies delay delay delay as much as they can. Why would a therapist or anyone for that matter provide a service and have to run after their money. Pay your Therapist get a receipt and submit it to your insurance company and see what they pay. A good therapist will provide good care with the right modality and if they can’t, they will refer you to one who can.

  20. “Physical health does not need the person to put in work” ???
    Eating healthy, going to regular doctor visits, taking medication for infections, surgery for medical problems, exercise, healthy sleeping, hygiene, vitamins…. This is not called putting in work?
    Mental health also required healthy living skills, proper sleep and healthy eating, routine doctor visits, medication and vitamins, and mind exercises like mindfulness and positive thinking.
    Now can you see the correlation?

  21. Recently I went to a therapist for 2-3 months. I was pushing it off because of the prohibitive cost, although I knew that I could really use the help.

    I paid around 2k for that which I do not really have, but hoped it would be worthwhile in the long run. It was nice to have someone to shmooze with about my week, etc etc… but not for $3 a minute.

    I wanted her to guide me but she was letting me ‘guide the session’. I’ve been guiding my life and it’s clearly not working! That’s what I’m paying for! Maybe it’s meant to work after a year, but I can’t afford to stick it out just in case. One more session costs most of my weekly grocery bill. I was not seeing enough progress after 12 weeks to justify the cost.

    PS In the past I had a specific issue for which I was able to get subsidized therapy, and it felt so much better. Obviously it’s nice to get handouts, but a big part was knowing that I’m not shouldering this alone.

  22. By the way I know of a local clinic that therapists ruined afew of my kids. Also know of a case that i am involved in that the same clinic did not deal with the issue right the therapist claimed to the patient that the supervisor does not let her do her job right. My kids going to a different clinic here and bh is the right shliach. You need to be very careful who you go to. Anybody that has a major cases does not belong to local clinics. They don’t know how to deal with major issues. patient that the clinic could not help her needed to go to top therapist.

  23. Dear mrs
    If you tell your therapist during the first intake session, what your expectations are and what you want from them then a good therapist will either tell you ‘I will tell you or give you advice or that’s not the way I practice my profession.’ Confirm what you are looking for And ask the therapist to commit to trying that route. Therapist generally want the patient to find their own way with their help and assistance. Telling someone what to do usually doesn’t last as long or is as effective. Sounds like a coach is what you might need.

  24. Many psychologist and therapist avoid insurance companies due to their miserable reimbursement rates, opaque rate structure, and random rate changes. Insurance companies have decided that licensed clinical psychologists are not as valuable as your primary care physician, so the insurance companies pay them much less, while restricting the levels of care that patients receive.

    If you are looking for someone to blame for many psychologists and therapists moving away from a health insurance reimbursement model, look no further than your HMO or PPO.

  25. I’m a typical girl that went through the system of bais yaakov and then seminary. Throughout all of it, I struggled with my emotional health. I often wonder to myself why I spent probably over a thousand hours sitting in a desk learning extremely important things. Chumash, Navi, Math, science … all great and intellectually stimulating. But now I’m spending so much money and time on my mental health. Why couldn’t I get at least the most basic skills from some of those countless classes?! I’m not insinuating that psychologists should start bringing real issues into a mainstream class of mainstream girls. But what if I got some basic skills like regulating emotions? Identifying Unhealthy relationships? Pointers on time management and running a healthy and happy Jewish home?
    What do you think, Lakewood?

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