College graduates face unique challenges while seeking mental health care. Here is some advice for college grads and parents of college grads as they try to manage their mental health care needs.
Securing health insurance
Challenge: For the most part, while you are in college, you probably take part in a campus-offered health insurance plan or remain on your parent’s insurance. However, upon graduation, the transition to adult life will likely include making your own health insurance plans. Not only will you be busy looking for employment, moving to an apartment or back in with your parents, or applying to grad school, but you will have to dedicate some time as a health care consumer in order to make smart decisions when planning for your insurance needs. Researching health insurance plans sure can be confusing and time consuming, especially if you don’t understand insurance jargon and medical terminology. In addition, insurance plans that offer a good deal of coverage can be costly, which NPR reports to be a common barrier against college grads seeking mental health care.
Advice: Start researching health insurance options well before graduation. Outline a plan, and include details like when your current health insurance will expire, who you can ask for help in researching insurance options, and what kind of coverage you are looking for. Make an appointment with an insurance agent to help you understand options like deductibles, networks, copays, and coverage. Set a budget for what you can afford as a monthly premium and start saving money to put towards the cost of your mental health care. Figure out if you can stay on your parent’s insurance plan. If you are currently in mental health treatment and hope to continue receiving services without interruption, talk with your mental health provider about what insurance plans they accept or ask if they would be willing to arrange your services on a sliding scale.
Switching mental health providers
Challenge: Sometimes it takes years to feel comfortable with a counselor or to find a group therapy setting which meets your mental health needs. Just when you feel like you finally have a therapeutic plan that supports your mental wellness, you find yourself back at square one after college graduation. Not only do most college grads have to change insurance plans, but they often have to change mental health providers too. Looking for the right psychologist or psychiatrist depends on a plethora of variables like budget, experience, success rate, location, and overall fit.
Advice: If you have to switch mental health providers upon graduation, discuss the transition with your current practitioner. They may be able to provide a referral to you, transfer your records to the new provider, or help ease your anxiety about starting fresh with a new counselor. You should also come up with a list of questions you would like to ask potential providers. Most mental health providers will offer you a free consultation so that you can determine if they will be the right fit for your mental health needs. Consider these points while searching for a new mental health provider include:
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A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.