Barriers to Mental Health Services

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the numerous barriers to getting appropriate mental healthcare. These include cultural barriers, financial issues, and many others.

Barriers to Mental Health Service

Mental health ultimately stems from the proper function of the brain. Like any other organ in the body, the brain can undergo numerous changes, diseases, and traumas that lead to its malfunction - malfunction that can manifest itself into mental health concerns, such as depression.

But this lesson isn't about these concerns, per se. Rather, it's about the barriers to proper mental healthcare that many people, across the entire world even, face to this day.

Scarce Mental Health Resources

Governments are unable to provide the necessary care that people deserve for mental health. Sometimes these resources are scarce because of budget issues. Other times, governments don't even consider mental health resources to be an important part of healthcare in general (for reasons we go over below).

Regardless, people who need help will often find that they have nowhere to turn to. Or, if they do, the resources are short-staffed, under-budgeted, and overworked to the point where getting an appointment to see a therapist, counselor, or doctor may be difficult, if not impossible.

For instance, in the U.S. there are about 1,000 patients for each mental health provider. In the next five years, the U.S. needs to add about 10,000 providers in order to make up for this scarcity.

Financial Hardship

Furthermore, appropriate mental healthcare is rarely affordable, whether it's because governments don't provide it, because health insurance barely covers it, or because a person simply doesn't have the personal funds for it.

Any way you slice it, financial hardship, the inability to afford mental health services, is a serious problem for many people as well. The average person is left with little to spend on mental health after accounting for housing, food, transportation, and family-related costs.

Social Stigma

But even in cases where resources for mental health and personal finances allow for appropriate care, it isn't always sought out. One of the reasons may be social stigma, a negative view or connotation of mental health disorders that may force some people to hide rather than seek help for their mental condition.

Surely you've encountered something to this end. After all, how many times have you heard that depressed people aren't really sick or they're weak, or they're just sad and should get over it?

That's social stigma for you. It minimizes, ignores, or laughs at a serious mental disorder. And because few people want to be demeaned like that, they try to pretend they don't have the issue or hide it to the best of their ability.

Cultural Barriers

Social stigma often ties in with another barrier to mental health services, that of cultural ones. After all, many cultures simply stigmatize those who are mentally unwell.

But beyond social stigma, cultural barriers may include misunderstandings about different mental health disorders, their causes, and their treatments.

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