Lack of health insurance causes mental health spike

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(WAND) - Each year more than 34,000 people take their own life and according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among adults. 

Director of outpatient services at Heritage Behavioral Health, Chelsea Mueller, says many people do not seek treatment for mental illness and for people without insurance, getting care is even more difficult. 

"They may not be able to afford the medication their doctor suggests," Mueller says." They may not be able to afford care. Even if their insurance or medical card covers some of it, there's still a fee to get those services."

Jacob Shaffer, who struggles with anxiety and depression, says he can't imagine not being able to afford his medication. Shaffer was able to get affordable care at Millikin University. 

"Other students at Millikin  I know, have had to elect not to receive care or not get treatment because they don't have the money for it," Shaffer says. "If you don't have that insurance, you're on your own finding counseling where you can."

According to Shaffer, he buys generic brand medication. It costs him more than 100 dollars a year. That is not including the cost of therapy appointments. 

"It's about 20 dollars each time I get a prescription refill," Shaffer says. "Right when I changed my insurance, it went up to 146 for that refill ...and that was 60 days."

Mueller says the best thing people can do if they are unable to afford care is to call or text a crisis hotline. Anyone suffering from mental illness can reach out to 1-800- 2738255. Mueller says a phone call and be the difference between life and death. 

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