Understanding mental health benefits and community resources
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - We know it’s hard to understand the benefits you or your family member are entitled to if seeking help with your mental health, but there’s a federal agency working hard to ensure you understand those benefits.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act requires that if you have a mental health need, it must be covered under the same or similar conditions if you have a medical need. Whether you’re right here in Wisconsin or anywhere in the United States, the Employee Benefits Security Administration writes rules for employee benefit plans. They make sure they comply with that law and enforce it. Every plan is different, but the role of EBSA is the same.
“I think that’s our biggest goal is to get people to understand that they should have equal access to mental health care and substance use disorder treatment as they do to their medical surgical benefits,” said Becki Marchand, Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Some of these benefits include covered therapy visits paid for by your health plan. There are also employee assistance programs. It means your employer provides you with confidential assistance for personal problems in-house, without using insurance. She says you can always call your employer to find out your coverage.
There are many resources available to those seeking help during a mental health crisis, and some are right here in our community. Noreen Salzman from The Centre of Wellbeing in Wausau says there is always a way out. For those with lower incomes or no insurance plan, she says The United Way is a good resource. They have a list of counseling agencies that will take you in on a sliding fee scale. Sliding fee means prices are reduced for those with lower incomes.
“Stress, anxieties, feeling like you’re in a low mood or, or just some problems that they have in life that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. We want people to use those benefits and know that they have them because you’re going to be more likely than to reach out,” said Salzman.
The Centre for Wellbeing, Achieve Center, and Bridge Clinic are just a few of the options in Wausau that have sliding scale options available. She says if you have an employer insurance plan, look to see if your employer has an employee assistance program, which does not use insurance and is usually available for you and your child. Salzman says if you have an insurance plan, you can contact the number on the back of your insurance card, to determine what kind of services are available with your coverage. They can also tell you about your deductible and co-pay. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency yourself, you are encouraged to call or text 988.
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