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Can You Afford to Ignore Your Emotional Health? Part 1

It seems that in every sector, the cost to be healthy is rising. Insurance rates are up, medical copays and coinsurance rates are up, prescription medication costs are up. It has become increasingly difficult for Americans who are struggling financially to be healthy.

Mental and emotional health are no exception. Between prescriptions, doctor visits,  therapy sessions, and possibly even hospital visits, the costs of having a mental or emotional health condition can quickly grow to a level that is out of reach for the average working American. In fact, a recent report published in Health Affairs shows that mental health conditions cost Americans over $201 billion a year.

Research shows that family and marriage counseling costs can vary widely, ranging from $75 to $200+ per hour. An individual therapy session may cost $75-150+ unless you live in a larger urban area like New York where the range jumps to $200-300+. If you are lucky enough to have insurance that covers counseling services, you will likely pay a specialist copay for each visit. For many plans that can range from $50 to $75+ per session and insurance will likely only cover a limited number of sessions.

It’s tempting to think that emotional and/or mental health is a luxury that you simply can’t afford, but that may be a dangerous mindset. In fact, your mental health (which encompasses psychological, emotional, mental and social well-being) is as important as your physical health. 

In this series, we will look at the importance of staying emotionally healthy, the ways we can foster emotional health, some affordable solutions for working through challenges you might face and resources for getting help if you find that you need it.

Let’s start with the reasons why we should invest time, effort and resources into our emotional well-being.

A 2014 Huffington Post article listed 5 important reasons you should stop ignoring your mental health. Here are the most compelling of the list:

Reasons to Invest In Emotional Health

  1. Better mental/emotional health leads to better physical health: Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) famously stated that “Without mental health, there can be no true physical health.” Study after study has confirmed that mental and physical health are fundamentally linked. Put more simply, there is a strong connection between the mind and body. If we don’t care for one, the other will suffer. Since we’ve already established how expensive healthcare costs are for physical conditions, it makes sense to do whatever we can do to stay emotionally healthy so that we can better manage our physical health. This doesn’t mean you can prevent or manage every physical illness through mental healthcare, but you can keep both your mind and your body in better working order if you address both.
  2. Better emotional health leads to better financial health: In many cases, healthy people are more productive and have better earning potential than those who face physical or mental illness. Those suffering from physical or mental illness are at a much higher risk for financial hardship due to the impact of their illness. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that an estimated 200 million work days are lost each year due to depression alone, and five out of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are mental health problems.
  3. Better mental health leads to better relationships: Almost anytime you suffer from a physical or emotional ailment, the people closest to you are impacted. It is difficult to have healthy and flourishing relationships if you are struggling emotionally. An investment in your emotional well-being is likely a significant investment in the relationships you have with your loved ones.
  4. Better emotional and mental health leads to a longer and happier life:  Studies show that by caring for your mental health, you will not only live longer, but you’ll also live better. In fact, “according to a 2012 study in the British Medical Journal, people with even mild mental health problems may have a lower life expectancy. Those with the highest levels of depression or anxiety had a risk of death that increased a whopping 94 percent, most often related to heart disease.”

We’ve established a case for the importance of emotional and mental well-being, but how can you accomplish that goal if your finances are limited? Stay tuned for the rest of our series. We will discuss the options you have available to take care of yourself emotionally so that you can enjoy a long and happy life as well as meet your financial, relational and personal goals.


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