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  • Writer's pictureDr. Maura Ferguson

The hidden costs of not doing therapy

Health is Wealth. Psychotherapy is an investment in yourself that can pay off but needs to be more accessible to all.


You may have heard the expression that health is wealth. This is often used in reference to physical health, but it applies equally to mental health. Separating emotional or mental and physical health is artificial, as our mind and body are not separate. Mental and physical health are intrinsically related and yet considered very differently by our culture and healthcare systems. Health care, in general, and particularly mental health, has increasingly become a commodity that is not available to all, making socio-economic and mental health out of reach to many people. Paying out of pocket for psychotherapy is a significant investment of time and money, but people do not always consider what the costs are of not doing therapy. The hidden financial costs of not seeking mental health services can be substantially high and multifaceted. Here are some specific examples of how avoiding therapy can impact financial health:

  1. Divorce Costs: Divorce can be financially draining. Legal fees, division of property, alimony, and child support payments can significantly impact your financial stability. Therapy can help couples work through issues, potentially avoiding the need for divorce proceedings. Individual Psychotherapy is never a guarantee that you will avoid a split with a partner, but it may also reduce the chances of a more costly and acrimonious separation.

  2. Loss of Income due to Burnout: Burnout at work often leads to decreased productivity and possibly missed workdays or even an earlier departure and reduced earnings. Over time, this can lead to missed opportunities such as promotions, lower performance-related bonuses, or job loss. Effective psychotherapy can help people better manage stress and prevent burnout.

  3. Medical Expenses: Unaddressed mental health issues can lead to physical health problems. Chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure and digestive problems.

  4. Substance Abuse Treatment: In the absence of better human connection and healthier coping skills, untreated mental health issues can increase the likelihood of self-medication through substance abuse; the costs of addiction treatment programs, therapy for substance abuse, and potential legal consequences can have a significant impact on financial health.

  5. Impact on Business Ventures: Mental health issues can affect your ability to manage a business or your job effectively. Poor decision-making, lack of focus, and strained relationships with colleagues or clients can harm business ventures, potentially leading to financial losses or even business closure.

  6. Missed Opportunities: Avoiding therapy might lead to missed personal and professional growth opportunities. Therapy can enhance self-confidence, communication skills, and decision-making abilities, opening doors to better job prospects, promotions, and financial success.

Mental Health and all health care are public health and human rights issues. Health care, including therapy, is expensive, as are many other personal investments, such as attending University or College. Some therapists offer sliding scales and low-fee mental health treatment for people on limited budgets. Many excellent qualifying therapists provide psychotherapy at reduced fees while becoming accredited and working under the license and supervision of a more seasoned clinician. Other times, people may find that their anxiety about starting therapy congregates around financial concerns but may not reflect their material reality. An example of this would be when someone spends a lot of money on clothing, restaurants and bars while also saying they cannot afford therapy. Private pay therapy is financially out of reach for others, leaving them lacking support. This inaccessibility impacts one person and people close to them and their overall community. The societal costs of inadequate meaningful and substantive public mental health care are substantial in the form of unemployment, underemployment, violence, substance use, etc.

By addressing mental health concerns, individuals can potentially avoid or mitigate many hidden financial costs, leading to a more stable and secure financial, emotional and social future life. For those who can afford private pay mental health treatment they might consider supporting political efforts to make such treatments more accessible to more people. Several non-profit organizations offer psychotherapy and mental health treatment to people who have low to no income. These organizations are excellent places to become involved with, volunteer for and make financial contributions towards.


Here is a non-exhaustive list of such organizations in Toronto, Ontario and San Francisco, California, two locations I'm familiar with. I would suggest that others check with their physician and community leaders to find other appropriate resources. If there are any you would like to share with me, I'm interested:


Toronto:

Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis Community Clinic:


Hard feelings: Low-cost counselling and mental health resources:


Women's College Hospital: Trauma therapy program, Reproductive Life Stages Program, General Psychiatry:


Sick Kids The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health:


Hopewoods has clinics with low and no-cost therapy services in Markham, Scarborough and Toronto:


San Francisco Bay Area resources:


Access Institute of Northern California


San Francisco Jung Institute has a low-fee psychotherapy clinic in the Mission neighbourhood:


Psychological Services Center at CIIS:


Haight Ashbury Psychological Services:


RAMS:


Instituto Familiar de la Raza


The Pacific Centre for Human Growth serving member of the LGBTQ+ community







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