Exploring the Benefits of Private Mental Health Facilities

Despite the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, many people struggling with mental illness still face denial or restriction of treatment imposed by insurance companies. By exploring the benefits of private mental health facilities, you can open up new possibilities for investing in your health and ensuring that you receive the kind, quality, and duration of care you need to truly heal.

In 2008, something extraordinary happened: the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). No longer would mental illness be treated differently than physical illnesses. No longer would people be denied treatment—explicitly or in effect—because their ailment appeared in the mind rather than the body. No longer would people have to suffer needlessly. Right? Well, not exactly. Although the MHPAEA was indeed something to celebrate, it wasn’t everything we had hoped, all because of just two words: medically necessary.

While “medically necessary” is indeed the standard by which most treatment of physical afflictions is also approved or denied, making mental illnesses ostensibly on par with other ailments, the nature of mental illness itself creates an enormous loophole for insurers. As psychologist Darcy Lockman writes in an illuminating article for Slate, “I believe that my work always falls comfortably within the range of medical necessity. Given the ambiguity of the language and the fact that problems in living cannot yet be biopsied, it is all but impossible to debate anyone who simply declares it does not.” Ostensible lack of medical necessity can be used to justify the denial of everything from a basic course of CBT to last-resort ECT treatment. And even when some form of treatment is covered, it is often limited in scope, keeping patients from receiving the care they need for true healing. This is particularly true when it comes to residential care.

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Denial and Restriction of Treatment


No one takes residential mental health treatment lightly. People who come to residential care need intensive, comprehensive care, and they need it now. And yet the MHPAEA has cast into the spotlight the fact that this is rarely possible using insurance coverage. The fact is that even the best insurance plans typically don’t cover the breadth and duration of therapies, nor the comfort of the treatment environment, that the best residential programs provide because they are not deemed medically necessary—they’re considered extras, nice-to-haves. And in many cases, residential treatment is not even an option due to the labyrinth of rules regarding when such care is or isn’t imperative. So what can you do? For many, the answer lies in private mental health facilities.

The Benefits of Private Mental Health Facilities


Private mental health facilities are those that do not accept insurance, but require private payment for services. In doing so, they let you bypass the limits imposed by insurance companies to receive the care you need as determined by your own personal situation. This has multiple important benefits:

The Right Place

When you decide to seek care at a private mental health facility, you are in control of where you go for treatment. This means that you can seek out the very best care without restricting yourself to in-network or other limited choices that may not be the right fit or offer the kind and quality of care you need to recover. Your time in treatment has the potential to be the most transformative experience of your life and you deserve the right to choose best possible care.

The Right Time

The right time to seek residential mental health treatment is when you decide you need it, not when an insurance company decides it will cover you. Despite the fact that we know early, comprehensive intervention leads to the best outcomes, insurance companies overwhelmingly demand that you delay residential care until you have exhausted outpatient options, even if you are ready for more intensive treatment long before that point. Unfortunately, many people who rely on insurance are left to suffer needlessly because they are waiting for insurance approval when they could be spending that time healing.

The Right Kind and Duration of Treatment

Private mental health facilities tailor treatment according to your needs, not insurance requirements. Part of this includes length of stay; typical inpatient stays are limited to 30-60 days on many insurance plans and often even less than that. But recovery is deeply personal and doesn’t happen on a standardized timeline; the right duration should always be determined based on your needs to set you up for the best possible outcome. This is also true of how you spend your time in treatment. While broad-spectrum, integrative treatment curriculums are well-known to offer the best chance at lasting recovery, insurance plans generally limit treatment to a small range of therapeutic modalities, reluctant to cover cutting-edge and holistic therapies. In a private residential program, you can be assured that the treatment you receive is designed only with your needs in mind and that you can participate in the therapies that are right for you based on both your own preferences and the recommendations of the clinicians who know and understand you.

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Investing In Your Health


Private mental health facilities do have one major drawback: cost. The fact is that many people have real concerns about being able to afford private residential treatment. However, what should also be considered is the cost of not seeking private care.

Your health is the most valuable thing you have. By making the investment in your mental wellbeing, you can potentially prevent years or even a lifetime of unnecessary suffering for both yourself and your family. This includes ultimately minimizing the very real economic costs of inadequately treated mental illness, including higher cumulative psychiatric treatment expenses, compromised ability to work, and even increased physical health expenses. That is, of course, to say nothing of the emotional cost of continued emotional and behavioral disturbance, which severely limits your ability to experience true joy, meaningful relationships, healthy self-esteem, and real purpose.

By seeking the care you need in a private mental health facility, you can ensure that you receive high-quality, broad-spectrum care in a warm, inviting, and comfortable setting that allows you to fully focus on your recovery. Through a comprehensive curriculum of empirically-based, cutting-edge, and holistic therapies, you are able to treat all aspects of your psychological struggles and discover who you really are outside the limits of your illness. What’s more, these programs can support your family as a whole, allowing you and your loved ones to heal both individually and as a group. And that is what real recovery is—the unleashing of each person’s potential based on their own needs, strengths, and desires, not the demands of an insurance company. With the right care in the right place and the right time, you can truly unlock the possibilities you carry within you to create the life you want.

Bridges to Recovery offers private, residential treatment for people living with mental illness as well as co-occurring substance abuse and eating disorders. Contact us for more information about our world-class program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting wellness.

Lead image source: Unsplash user Patrick B.