5 reasons Americans fail to get regular mental health checkups

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The National Institute for Mental Health reports around one in five Americans experience a mental illness or disorder in a given year, but many do not make regular mental health checkups a part of their preventive care, according to NBC News.

Here are five reasons Americans fail to get regular mental health checkups, according to experts who provided insights for the report.

1. Insurance companies have made it difficult for mental health providers to obtain reimbursement for mental health treatment, and providers are reluctant to accept insurance when they will not be paid, said Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist.

2. Patients struggle to find the right provider for specialty mental health issues, said Clare Purvis, a psychologist who works in clinical innovation and research at Lantern, a San Francisco-based digital mental health company. "In most settings, wait times for an appointment are prohibitively long for providers who accept the consumer's insurance plan, and the out-of-pocket cost for care is often too high for this to be a realistic option for most consumers."

3. Mental healthcare and wellness assessments have long been stigmatized in American society, leaving annual mental health assessments out of mainstream preventive care, said Scott E. Hall, PhD, professor of clinical mental health counseling at the University of Dayton in Ohio. The challenge patients face to discuss emotional trouble can extend to checkups with their primary care physicians. Primary care physicians may not want to overstep professional boundaries or delve into a mental health situation they are not equipped to handle, said Brooke Myers Sorger, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist.

4. Additionally, many of these physicians are balancing a variety of issues while attempting to address a patient's mental health concerns. "Mental health disease takes up a large chunk of patient visits in primary care," said primary care physician Dana Corriel, MD. "An annual is so extensive a visit — with so many topics to visit — that the physician often finds herself strapped for time to complete everything."

5. If the U.S. implemented yearly mental health evaluations, Americans would have to significantly change the conversation surrounding mental illness, said Racine R. Henry, PhD, marriage and family therapist. "Yearly mental health evaluations will force a normalization of mental illness in a culture which perpetuates the idea that a lack of mental health functioning is a rare, personal problem."

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