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Young Adult Mental Health Stories From Across the Nation

Mental Health as a Mother in CA


I have dealt with mental health issues as a mother, such as postpartum depression and anxiety. My symptoms carried on further after and I had a hard time with my insurance receiving therapy. I was told that if I didn’t have the desire to end my life then I didn’t need 1:1 therapy. I now have access through my school and that has helped me tremendously.


Accessing Mental Health Care in CO


Once I was kicked off my company’s insurance plans the cost of my therapist doubled from $75 a session to $150 a session. Therapy was already costing a decent amount of money but with the increased price I had to go down to fewer sessions a month and needed some help from family to pay for it because I didn’t have a job. To make matters worse the therapist I was seeing told me they didn’t think they could help me and suggested I find another therapist.

Finding a therapist that fits for you is difficult and expensive. It often takes a couple of sessions to see if they are a good fit and sessions are not cheap. You can spend months spinning your wheels trying to find a therapist who can help you and spending a lot of money to do so. Fortunately, I found a good therapist and could visit them for a while.

Now that I am in a better place, I no longer see them. Mostly because the cost would simply be too much and I feel that I have a handle on my mental health for now. A good therapist can be really useful for developing coping strategies and making sense of your feelings but getting there is prohibitively expensive. I was fortunate that I had some help from my family. However, anyone without the resources I had would be out of luck. We do not make it easy to access mental health services.


My Mental Health Journey in NY


Upon entering college, I hoped to find solace through the available mental health services. However, the reality was far from what I expected. Setting up an appointment was an arduous process, involving numerous convoluted avenues and administrative hurdles. The demand for mental health services was evidently high, resulting in excruciatingly long wait times. This experience echoed the trend I had witnessed growing up—mental health was not just ignored and disregarded, but it was also incredibly challenging to access.

Faced with these obstacles, I had to resort to the same coping mechanisms I used growing up to deal with anxiety. I delved into my love for list-making and structure, practiced mindfulness techniques, and sought solace in creative outlets. While these methods provided some relief, they were no substitute for professional guidance and support.

This journey highlighted a pervasive issue: the systemic barriers preventing individuals, especially those from marginalized communities, from accessing vital mental health services. The cultural stigma I experienced at home combined with the bureaucratic hurdles in college underscored the urgent need for change. Mental health should not be a luxury, nor should it be shrouded in silence and inaccessible services.

Despite these challenges, my experiences have fueled my determination to raise awareness about mental health issues, especially within immigrant communities. I advocate for breaking down the cultural taboos surrounding mental health and for improving the accessibility of services. By sharing my story and promoting open conversations, I hope to contribute to a future where everyone, regardless of their background, can access the support they need to nurture their mental well-being.


Health Care Access in TX


Affordable and accessible health care is a fundamental right that every individual should have the privilege of obtaining. It is a cornerstone of a high quality of life. However, the current state of health care access in Texas is far from ideal, with significant challenges in both basic health care and therapy services.

In Texas, the cost of basic health care services is prohibitively high, with clinics charging exorbitant fees, often reaching up to $100 per visit for common illnesses. Similarly, therapy services can cost over $100 per hour. This situation is unsustainable for many individuals, particularly those facing financial difficulties. As a result, many people are forced to forgo necessary medical attention, leaving them to suffer from illnesses that could otherwise be treated. They are also unable to address underlying health concerns, exacerbating their long-term well-being.

My personal experiences highlight the severity of this issue. I have battled mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction all on my own because I could not afford proper treatment. This has affected my day-to-day activities. Growing up, I faced numerous traumatic experiences that have left emotional scars and unresolved issues. These traumas are like tangled knots that need to be carefully unraveled and addressed. However, the challenge lies in the fact that there is no affordable therapy available to provide guidance and support in working through these deeply rooted issues. I am required to pay $200 for the medication I need to manage my mental health condition. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, there are times when I cannot afford to purchase it for several months. This situation leaves me in a state of turmoil and emotional distress, all because I cannot consistently afford the medication throughout the year.

The health care system’s shortcomings have compelled individuals to endure hardships, and this is unacceptable. Many of us grapple with trauma and emotional struggles, but without affordable therapy options, we are left to navigate these challenges alone. This issue isn’t limited to one person’s experience; it affects individuals of all ages facing life-threatening conditions. Alarmingly, rates of suicide, addiction, depression, and anxiety are soaring in today’s world. This crisis often begins with the health care system’s inability to provide access to necessary care and effectively manage conditions that lead to these mental health challenges.
To address these issues, I advocate for increased funding in the health care system to make basic health care and therapy more affordable and accessible. It is essential to prioritize the mental health of individuals by ensuring that they can access the care they need. Additionally, we must provide resources and guidance, especially to young adults, to navigate the complex health care system effectively. Many young adults lack the support and knowledge required to access the care they need, and this information gap must be bridged.

Lastly, the current state of health care access in Texas, and by extension, in many other places, is failing individuals, impacting their quality of life, and exacerbating mental health issues. We must prioritize affordable and accessible health care, particularly for therapy and mental health services, and ensure that all individuals can receive the care they deserve.

Mother Seeking Therapy in CO


At 29 years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD. I quickly realized that I had been living with both disorders since some of my earliest memories. This was a crushing discovery, and I felt a deep despair that I had been ignored and invalidated by everyone in my life. I was labeled as ‘Lazy,’ ‘Stubborn,’ and ‘Selfish,’ when in reality I was struggling to understand and live in the world around me.

When I was growing up in the 90s, mental health was stigmatized. I remember my grandma telling me that if you went to a doctor for depression you were automatically labeled as ‘crazy.’ I believed that I was crazy for a lot of my life. I started to take my mental and physical health seriously following the birth of my daughter because I made an enormous commitment to be there for my child. I started therapy and have attended consistently for almost 4 years now.

I remember seeking out therapists that I was told accepted my insurance. I felt challenged at every turn though, as if it was going to be near impossible to get the help I wanted. I faced many obstacles and spoke to various professionals who all gave me different answers. I can understand how so many people give up on therapy, or seeing a doctor regularly. The process is confusing, almost daunting when you continue to seek help to no avail. I persevered and learned how to advocate for myself. I know that there is also a communication barrier in conveying symptoms to a doctor. They speak a different language, and the same can be said for paperwork in health care. My story is one of success, but many have given up. If anything, I’d like to use my knowledge to help others receive the care they deserve.


Mental Health Accessibility Problems in TX


When I was about 14 years old, I started therapy. Around 16, my therapist told me that she could no longer work on my problem areas because they were out of her scope and practice. I had to look for a new therapist, however, my area did not provide many options under my insurance. Being in a place that was far from the city did not give any options for providers inside and outside my insurance. The options that were available were a 30 to 45-minute drive. During this time, my insurance was about to expand to more providers so I thought I could wait.

That took about 2 years and at that point, I was going to go to college and move to Houston so I thought to wait. After I waited to move, I did not have the money for mental health services and waited until I could afford it. My two-year wait ended up being a three-year wait, and I did not receive the mental health services that I needed until I was 19. After working through my mental health problems, I decided I was ready to move on to trauma therapy. Luckily, I asked my therapist for recommendations for people either online or in person.

I chose a person who has a current office opening up but does online currently to help me with the transition between places and time management. So far, the shift has been easy. I was able to find my new provider more easily because of my past therapist and being in the city. I looked at providers that are trauma therapists in my hometown and the options were still slim even after the insurance expanded. If I was not living in the city, I wouldn’t have the mental health services I have now.


Writing As a Form of Healing in NY


In the midst of the pandemic’s chaos, the question echoed, ‘Do you have a story on mental health? How has access to mental services affected your life?’

For me, a college student, this was not just a query but a gateway to unraveling a deeply personal narrative. The story begins with an unexpected blow—the loss of a beloved uncle, a figure who embodied not just familial ties but served as a role model and the anchor of my mindset. The grief-struck like a thunderbolt, revealing a vulnerability that had long been veiled by a facade of strength. I came to the realization that, in the pursuit of acting strong for so long, the importance of taking a moment to breathe and acknowledge personal needs had been neglected. As a college student, this mental unraveling had repercussions on the nascent journey through academia.

The impact of the breakdown was exacerbated by a lack of access to mental health services. I came to confess to grappling with the challenge of seeking help, a skill not yet mastered. The reluctance to ask for assistance, rooted in a fear of vulnerability, emerged as a significant obstacle. The confounding dilemma was further intensified by past experiences where trust placed in others had been betrayed. I was scared by instances of sharing only to have my vulnerability weaponized against them and retreated into self-imposed solitude. The result was self-silencing, a conscious decision not to share or seek help. In this vacuum of professional guidance, l turned to a humble yet potent service—writing as a sense of reflection.

The act of writing, a form of self-reflection, became my form of solace. Whether adopting the perspective of the third person or the first, the written words served as a therapeutic tool. Each stroke of the pen or keystroke on a keyboard became a means of understanding the depths of the pain and the evolving impact on the storyteller’s psyche. In the absence of conventional mental health services, the act of writing became a silent confidante, offering a space to pour out emotions without the fear of judgment or betrayal. I found a measure of healing in the process of articulating their experience, a cathartic journey that, though solitary, was not devoid of its own therapeutic merit.

This personal story underscores the intricate interplay between my mental health, the ability to seek help, and the transformative power of self-expression. It prompts reflection on a universal truth—the importance of creating a supportive environment where individuals feel safe to share, seek help, and heal. In the absence of readily accessible mental health services, the resilience found in personal practices such as writing emerges as a testament to the indomitable human spirit seeking solace in the face of adversity.


Therapy Has Helped, Despite the Hurdles in CA


I have struggled with anxiety since I was younger, and as a teen, I started to show signs of depression. Going to the school therapist has helped me a lot and given me relief every time I go to a therapist. Although I have found it hard to get access to therapy it is worth going despite the obstacles.


Mental Health Access in CA


I was under my parent’s health insurance in California but never accessed mental health. When I studied for my first master’s degree from 2015-2017 I was 23-25 years old living abroad in London without health care since I was not a citizen. I was diagnosed with ADHD but did not have the financial resources to access medication since I was living on US student loans and unable to get a job more than 20 per week given my student visa status. I was given an extension on my dissertation to finish my master’s program but left to manage my own mental health.

When I reached out to the free mental health resources on my campus none of the providers were women of color and therefore I could not connect with them. I did find some women of color therapists outside of school but could not afford more than one session since at that time the currency exchange rate was 1.5 USD to 1 GBP. I went to one session for an hour $135 rate about an hour and 15 minute train and bus ride away. Even my diagnosis test for being evaluated for ADHD was 500 GBP which was 750 USD at the time. When I returned to California in 2017 I was 25 years old and had one year left of health care under my parent’s health insurance because of the extension the Obama administration made, which expanded health care for young adults under their parent’s insurance plan up to 26.

I went through the process of finding a therapist and psychiatrist within the Kaiser network in southern California, which is a private health organization that also accepts Medi-Cal. I found the process very lengthy and difficult because of scheduling constraints. It was hard to find a woman of color who I could connect with and I also asked that she understand mixed cultures as I am first generation American to a Mexican Mother and Nigerian Father. Once I found a woman, our schedules clashed and I could only get an appointment with her once every 6 weeks which did not seem effective. I inquired and went through the process for being transferred to an out-of-network provider that Kaiser accepted referrals to. I found another woman who had more openings for weekly appointments however we did not connect well and she did not understand what it meant for me to be a first-generation American and how the migrant experiences of both of my parents from different countries impacted my lived experience. I felt very judged by her body language and response to the things I would share and I did not feel heard by her. So although she was a woman of color and available for weekly sessions I left her after a month and a half and went back to the previous therapist at Kaiser that I could connect with as she was an African-American woman who had married a Mexican man and understood the intersections of culture. However, the scheduling was still an issue because so much was happening in my life that a one-hour appointment every 6 weeks did not leave enough time to really discuss the root issues.

Once I turned 26 I got a job and followed this same therapist to her private practice where she only worked once a week, so the availability was still an issue. I was only able to see her once a month. Then when I returned to college in 2021 I applied for Medi-Cal and had to wait for 3 months and was able to be placed at Kaiser again where I began seeing her again. I now see her every 4-6 weeks depending on the availability of her schedule.

I find the navigation process for therapy to be difficult in itself for the application of insurance and referrals, on top of finding a person you connect with and taking some time to build a relationship and open up. Scheduling and availability can be even more burdensome depending on the season of life you are in and how much support you need at that time.


Culturally Sensitive Mental Health Care in NY


Growing up I never really thought of the need of having Mental Health Services in my life because it was never something brought up. I grew up in a Nigerian household all my life and it was not until coming to college that I really understood what mental health was. It is ironic because both my parents work in that health field and it was just something they never spoke about.

Coming to college I didn’t think I had any mental health issues until I had my first-ever panic attack freshman year. I decided to seek out the help of my university’s mental health services. My experience with the University at Albany’s Mental Health Services was an okay experience. I felt like the therapist at first was trying to understand me but could not relate to me. I asked her if this service could continue throughout the summer because it was close to May when school was letting out. She asked me if my family has health insurance for me to continue this service when I go home for summer break. I was reluctant to answer because I didn’t want to go into the whole conversation about medical billing on my father’s insurance because that is a taboo subject.

Growing up with health insurance is something that I was able to have but I never thought twice about it because it was just something that was always there that I never lacked, but being asked if my insurance would cover mental health services was a question I couldn’t answer. I knew my health insurance would cover mental health services but I just didn’t want to ask my parents about it. My access to mental health services affected my life because it opened a new insight into the conversations that I wasn’t having at home but maybe other students were having.

I didn’t want to disappoint my parents because sending the kids away from home even if it’s just 2 hours away is kind of scary. I didn’t want to burden them with the whole mental health conversation because they were going to ask me if I was okay. Did I need to come home? I just didn’t want to burden anyone with that task. Even though I’m afforded free health care under my parent’s insurance I don’t sometimes think I’m taking full advantage of it because I’m not using it for the services that it has. I just found out that my health insurance covers some scholarships that I didn’t even know they offered. So I feel like sometimes health insurance companies are not telling all the users about all the services they have even though they’re paying for it out of their paycheck. Sometimes health insurance companies seem like a scam because they limit what people can and cannot have based on the medical procedural cost.


Health Care Access in IL


The lack of access to mental health benefits has impacted me in various ways. I have not had insurance since 2019, and I only had it for about 6 months when I was working full-time. The type of insurance I did have during that period was Medicaid, which was not always helpful for mental health services, or it was still very expensive.

As I have gotten older, I have realized the importance of taking care of my mental health. However, living on my own with no insurance, it has been difficult to make this a priority. The obstacles that I have faced included having to struggle to either pay for therapy or pay for my groceries. This impacted my life because dealing with the things I was going through or feeling was really difficult, and I was not able to support myself in that way.


Mental Health in IL


I do not have a personal mental health story, but I know people who have experienced significant challenges. The stories I’ve encountered revolve around individuals grappling with issues within their families, relationships, or professional lives, which can take a toll on their mental well-being.

Fortunately, there has been a noticeable shift towards improved accessibility to mental health services, particularly in response to the declining mental health of young people. Nowadays, there are readily available resources, such as hotlines, that anyone can reach out to when facing mental health challenges. Many universities and companies have also recognized the importance of supporting individuals with mental health issues and have implemented programs and resources to assist.

While there are fewer obstacles to accessing mental health services compared to the past, one key challenge remains the need for individuals to overcome the reluctance or stigma associated with seeking help, as opening up to the right people is crucial in addressing mental health concerns.


Mental Health on College Campus in TX


Throughout my life, I have struggled with severe anxiety, and I remember constantly feeling trapped as a child. As I grew, those feelings never left, and they only began to intensify as I experienced more of the journeys that came with life. From the pandemic that ravaged the world, my health issues, to big life changes like attending college, I knew I was slipping, but it was still not enough to push me toward seeking mental health care. It was not until both of my grandmothers passed away, within weeks of each other, that I found myself with nowhere else to turn.

I did not know where to start, so I sought out care from my university’s counseling and psychological services program. Although apprehensive after hearing the opinions and experiences of other students, I am glad that I took that chance. I kept telling myself that if I just pushed through, and channeled my emotions towards school, I would be fine, and I would survive until the summertime. I did not realize how close I was to the edge, and how unsustainable and unhealthy that mindset was. The service I got was not perfect, but I do not know where or what I would be if I did not seek treatment when I did.

There is always room for improvement, but it starts with increasing accessibility and letting people know about the resources that are available for them during these times of need. Following college, I plan on attending medical school and becoming a Pediatrician. To have a healthy society, mental health care must be prioritized for all populations. Failing to treat mental health conditions in childhood not only puts a strain on a person as they develop, but it also puts a strain on the already weakening health care system. If we continue neglecting our pediatric populations, a functioning society will cease to exist.


Mental Health in NY


Mental health, especially among college students, is not something to address lightly. I spent too much time not addressing my own mental health seriously, and when I went to college, the administration did not take it seriously either, when I needed it most. A recent study by the Healthy Minds Study showed that year after year, depression and anxiety symptoms have only been increasing among college students. I am among those statistics.
When I was thirteen years old, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

Given the limited number of providers that would take my health insurance in my area, I had to travel up to thirty minutes away after school to reach my therapy appointment. And with the relatively high therapist turnover rate, I never saw the same therapist for more than a few months at a time. This prevented me from forming a strong therapeutic bond and getting the right mental health treatment I needed. There came a point when I did not see continuing therapy as worth my time because of the perceived inevitability that my therapist would leave the one practice in my area that would accept my insurance. Thus, I sacrificed my own mental health needs out of frustration and limited availability.

Going to college provided a new opportunity to return to therapy, however. And I really needed it too—moving away from what I considered normal, everyday life exacerbated my depression symptoms. Soon after my first semester of freshman year began, I sought therapy at SUNY Geneseo’s health center. However, the first therapy session I could even fathom booking was months in advance. Given how frail I thought my mental state was, I didn’t think I would have been able to make it that long.

For having over five thousand students, there are less than five mental health counselors at the Counseling Center. It is egregious that even when demand is so high, as displayed by the months-at-end waiting times to schedule an initial appointment, the supply of therapists is not matched. It’s an afterthought. And it’s not just SUNY Geneseo—the availability of mental health services across SUNY campuses is abysmal.
I urge New Yorkers to stand up for youth mental health. At college, a significant transition from dependency to independence, many students need mental health care. The provision of mental health services across college campuses—and SUNY campuses in particular—should not be swept under the rug as an afterthought. There are real young adults suffering every single day.


My Mental Health Journey in IL


When I was younger, I always struggled in school. I was never a straight-A student, but I tried my best to get by. I remember needing extra help with school work and having a difficult time focusing in class. It was so frustrating to me that I could have such a hard time focusing on math, but I could learn subjects I was interested in so much more quickly. It dawned on me that I might have ADHD, and in high school, I even mentioned this to my family. However, at the time, the stigma that surrounded their understanding of what ADHD was, was that it wasn’t real or that ADHD was an indication of being a “problem child.” My family, even though they didn’t know any better, just didn’t want me to be seen in a bad light, and since they knew I never acted out in school, they never considered that I might have any kind of neurodivergence. Because of this, I continued to be undiagnosed until after I graduated college.

In college, I ran into my first experience of what really made me realize I needed to get diagnosed. Thankfully, I was mostly in classes I was interested in, but I still struggled often with reading assignments and other subjects. I was still trying to complete some general education courses and sadly had to retake math twice. No matter how hard I tried in math, I struggled so much with grasping concepts that would just not stick to my brain at all. It’s not that I wanted to dislike math, I just couldn’t find a way to be interested in it, and I really never could. I knew just like anything in life, though, there were certain things that you had to deal with even when you didn’t want to. Because I had never been diagnosed, I never was able to receive any kind of care or help with my ADHD. But one day a friend of mine had some Adderall and offered me some to help focus on getting work done and studying. I understand the stigma with taking medication that wasn’t my own, but the process to get diagnosed while I was in school would have taken too long and it wasn’t even on my mind as an option because of so long ago. I went ahead with using it, knowing it was from a safe source. I couldn’t believe how life-changing it was to try for the first time. It was like my brain quieted down for the first time in my life. I could hear my thoughts so clearly, and as I was working on my homework, I didn’t miss a beat or feel like my brain was pulling me away in other directions. I was able to focus regardless of my environment, and I also felt a new sense of peace and contentment. I was never really so grounded in a way where I felt present in the moment and focused on it. After my experience, it also dawned on me: Was this how people functioned normally? Do people really not struggle with tasks like I do every day? These questions and immediate realizations that followed actually brought me to tears. Feelings of frustration, jealousy, and shame came up for me as well. I knew that I was different. I had just never really pondered how it really affected my life in such a significant way or how much harder I had to work in order to just get by.

I made the choice after this experience to seek treatment and get diagnosed so I could start my journey understanding how to manage my ADHD as well as celebrate it. I understood that even when my ADHD has created obstacles for me, it has also brought me many successes because of doing what I love and hyper-focusing on my goals and passions. I can’t say I have looked back and wondered if my grades would be different if I went through college understanding my neurodivergence and being treated in a way that was helpful to me. But I don’t let that get in the way of the fact that I am happy to know that I am neurodivergent and just having that understanding has helped me too much. All those feelings of frustration, jealousy, and shame have all subsided with the understanding that I now possess. I am grateful to have had the ability to get mental health care that helped me discover more about myself as well as heal and grow as a person.


Mental Health as a Young Adult in NY


Whenever I think about my mental health journey, I can’t help but remember my first anxiety attack. I was on the 3 train headed uptown at 7:15 AM. I had already been experiencing heightened feelings of worry and symptoms of depression before that morning. Suddenly, as the train reached the 3rd tunnel, I felt extremely hot. Everything began to spin, and my ears felt like I had been underwater. As soon as I was going to faint, the doors opened, and I had the strength to run onto the platform for air. I was in the 9th grade.

Throughout the rest of high school, I struggled intensely with anxiety and slight depression. Unfortunately, because I was under 18, I could not seek the necessary help. Growing up in a Caribbean household is tough when topics about mental health arise due to ignorance and generational neglect of mental health. I knew that it would be hard to get the blessings of my parents, so I made it my duty to help myself. I did a lot of research and self-advisement. I thought I had finally “cured” myself and “figured” it out.

I was proven wrong when the pandemic hit in 2020. I was a senior in high school, and I began my freshman year of college shortly after. All the anxiety and depression that I thought I had gotten to the bottom of intensified, and panic attacks came much easier. I realized that I had to do what was necessary to improve my well-being. After two years of this, I decided to ask for help in 2022. I was over 18 at this point and didn’t have to get my family involved if I didn’t want to. I found a therapist through my insurance company, and it changed my life for the better.

Having access to a kind and patient therapist has made my life so joy-filled and given me a better understanding of myself. I deal with pressure and change so much better. I still struggle with anxiety, but it is very rare, and when it does show up, I know how to combat it. Therapy has also changed the way I communicate my emotions, making it a lot easier to connect with others and build healthy relationships.


Kids With Disabilities Grow Up Too: Gaps in Care For Adults With Disabilities in NY


Each Wednesday, I make the hour-long commute to my physical therapy appointment in Manhattan. I juggle my therapy appointments with being a full-time student and having a part-time job. During the summer, I attend physical therapy up to five times a week. I have been receiving specialized physical therapy since before I could remember. It is the reason I have been able to prove doctors wrong and walk with assistance.

As I approach the age of 21, when one normally ages out of specialized pediatric care, it has become even more critical to balance everything.
Many adult health care providers do not have experience in treating people with disabilities, leaving them with unmet needs and at increased risk of health complications. Comprehensive care for adults like me is, unfortunately, finite. For many adults with disabilities, access to quality care is influenced by insurance coverage. It also must be acknowledged that health care coverage in the United States is often tied to things like employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even with improvements after the pandemic, the unemployment rate among people without disabilities is still about twice as high compared to those with disabilities. This leaves Medicaid as the only coverage option for many people with disabilities. Policies vary by state; however, unlike children’s Medicaid coverage, adult plans often place limits on things like the number of therapy sessions allowed in a year. In reflecting on my health care journey thus far, I am grateful for the Affordable Care Act. I am able to stay on my parent’s insurance plan until the age of 26.

This means that I will be able to continue receiving some specialized services and seeing my pediatric providers. I fear for what things will be like when I can no longer be on my parent’s insurance plan. I know it is only a matter of time before challenges hit home. Science tells us that the brain changes most rapidly during childhood. Health care providers emphasize the importance of early intervention in the treatment of disabilities. There is a lack of attention to the complications that come with age. It is attitudes like these combined with a lack of awareness that contribute to gaps in comprehensive care for adults with disabilities. Pediatric providers see a child from when they are young and watch them grow up. It can be a challenge for adult providers to develop rapport with their patients, especially when a patient has unfamiliar needs. Efforts need to be made to increase disability awareness within the medical community at large.

Otherwise, adults with disabilities will continue to receive a lower standard of care. Anyone is one accident away from becoming disabled. It is urgent that we ensure our health care system meets the needs of people with disabilities of all ages. This will not happen overnight. I encourage senators to listen to the experiences of disabled New Yorkers and their caregivers. We need to start collaborative dialogue. Insurance companies should also consider expanding the services they cover for adults. People with disabilities deserve to live productive and fulfilling lives. Personally, my biggest fear is losing the abilities I have worked so hard to gain. Remember, kids with disabilities grow up too!


Access to Quality Mental Health in TX


Personally, I believe access to mental health services on college campuses and, in general, for young adults here in Texas is nowhere near where it should be. To get adequate mental health services, you need to have health insurance that will cover the cost of a provider. As we know, for many college students and young adults, this is not always the case. And although campuses offer mental health services, these are usually not the best specific care that each student needs and can be limited.

Access to mental health services is so important, but more specifically, access to quality mental health. Having access to this care literally saves lives. It can help drastically reduce or eliminate the risk of suicide, assist those who struggle with abuse and domestic conflicts, and allow people to better manage day-to-day struggles that can seem momentous when dealing with mental illness. When people are mentally healthy, their lives are better, and they can expend more energy into being better and uplifting those around them. It is a positive chain reaction that uplifts communities as a whole. For college students, being mentally healthy means being able to do well in school, be on top of their academic and social life, and prepare for their best future.

However, unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, there are quite a few barriers to accessing mental health services. I think the largest one would be the cost, which ties in with the lack of insurance that covers good providers. Also, for a lot of young people who are in college working alongside school can be difficult, and most jobs don’t earn enough for quality services. The high cost alone leaves people feeling they are better off without the help and leaves them further isolated, which can worsen existing mental health conditions.

There are some options for free mental health services offered by college campuses as a way to combat this and help enrolled students who need access to mental health services, but this too has some problems. I can’t speak for other college campuses, but I know that here at UT Austin, there are a few free mental health services that are both digital and in person. For example, we have something called “TimelyCare,” which is a virtual well-being mental health program for UT students where they can receive 24/7 access to help. Although this is great that something is being done, many students complain about the lack of one-on-one or patient-centered care. The mental health services can be more of an umbrella approach since it is such a huge campus, and there are so many students, so some students may not feel adequately heard.

Also, our college campus is pretty diverse, and many people want to speak to someone like them – someone who understands cultural challenges, POC issues, religious backgrounds, etc., and provide culturally-sensitive care. Providing such specific care, though, is not common on university campuses, which can further isolate individuals. Another issue or barrier is the lack of knowledge or information on the services provided. Until I researched a little more about the services offered at UT Austin, I had no idea about “TimelyCare” or the other virtual options that they offered for students who are struggling. I think this lack of information and advocacy can further stigmatize and isolate individuals who are already struggling and burdened with mental health illnesses.

Though there are some steps being taken to increase awareness and make mental health services more accessible, I feel that there is still a long way to go. From what I have seen on campus and heard about mental health access for young adults in Texas, the barriers that exist are still far too high. The cost for care, the quality of care, the lack of advocacy, the lack of awareness further isolate the individuals that need the help and attention the most.


Challenges to Access Mental Health Services in CO


Access to mental health services has significantly impacted my life in a positive way, shaping what I consider the most influential success story of my life. I don’t believe the issue lies in the accessibility of mental health services; rather, it’s a problem with people seeking these services. The services are available; they exist. However, many individuals struggle to find the right path to access them. More outreach, marketing, and transparency on the part of mental health care providers could make the process of seeking help more seamless. Most people don’t know the initial steps to take or where to turn, making it easier to avoid the issue altogether, which is not a sufficient solution. While improvements can always be made on both sides, I believe it’s easy to misattribute the lack of public education about health care and the workings of our existing systems as the fault of health care providers or the systems themselves.

In my personal experience, I recognized a significant need – something was hindering my well-being. Fueled by this need, I sought help. When you need assistance, no one is going to come to you offering it; you must take the initiative and express your need for help. This was the most challenging part of the process for me. I was reluctant to acknowledge that anything was wrong, and I didn’t want to spend my hard-earned money on it. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way. When you’re truly miserable, you’ll do whatever it takes to address the issue. I’m beyond grateful that I followed through with it. Although it took more effort and resources than it should have, I reclaimed my mental well-being and, most importantly, my life.

In hindsight, I wish it were easier to compare options and find places covered by my insurance. There is definitely room for improvement in making this process easier to navigate. However, the challenges faced in accessing mental health care with the current system pale in comparison to the relief, empowerment, peace, stability, and clarity that come from talking to someone who understands your world. Thanks to this, I am leading a happier, healthier, and more productive life than I ever thought possible.


Talking About Mental Health as a Child Welfare Specialist in IL


Mental health is of great importance to me, and I would wholeheartedly recommend counseling or therapy to anyone in need. My experiences with accessing the right mental health services have shaped my views on mental health providers. In my opinion, representation in the mental health field is crucial.

My first encounter with a counselor, as I was dealing with emotional stress and depression, left me feeling that the counselor was unhelpful. When I opened up about nearly losing my mom and her battle with congestive heart failure, the counselor made an insensitive comparison between my mom and her dog. While I understand that people often consider their pets as family, this was my actual mother who had raised me. Following that conversation, I closed myself off and stopped seeking help. It took a breakdown after the loss of my nephew to give therapy another chance. Although my current experience with services is better than my first, there still seems to be a disconnect.

I have a sibling who is bipolar schizophrenic. Her journey began with postpartum depression after a miscarriage that went untreated and eventually evolved as she became pregnant again. As African-American women, we are more likely to be ignored when raising concerns. My sister saw multiple doctors, but none of them referred her to or suggested any mental health services. It was only after a traumatic incident where she left my niece and nephew alone in a parking lot that her concerns were taken seriously. She was going through a severe episode that could have been prevented if our concerns had been acknowledged earlier.

Access to mental health services is vital in every community. We, as a community, must actively promote the available resources for those seeking mental health services. In my role as a Child Welfare Specialist, I witness the lack of available mental health services, especially when it comes to psychiatric doctors. In my community, there’s only one facility that offers psychiatric services without requiring a referral. It is crucial to combat the stigmas surrounding seeking help for mental health issues and make these resources more accessible. Mental health services should be readily available to all individuals, regardless of gender, and they should be common rather than rare.


Mental Health Story in NY


I’ve always wanted to see a therapist. Mental health issues run rampant in my family, from ADHD to anxiety to depression, and the way my mind is constantly racing at an eleven out of ten makes me think I may have inherited my fair share of these challenges. However, even though I’ve contemplated seeking therapy since I was 15 years old, I still haven’t had the chance, five years later.

One issue is finding the time. Between working three jobs and attending a rigorous university, it’s nearly impossible for me to find a convenient time to commute an hour and then sit down with a therapist. But even that could be manageable. The biggest issue for me personally is the financial burden of affording mental health services. My health insurance does not cover regular mental health consultations. According to the Healthfirst mental health policy, “since insurance coverage is based on medical necessity, Healthfirst may have more limited coverage options for common life problems like grief and loss, couples and marriage counseling, career counseling, and general relationship issues.” Consequently, I’d have to bear a portion of the medical bill myself, along with my other bills and expenses.

The urgency of my other financial responsibilities inherently makes accessing mental health services feel optional and, therefore, nonessential. If I don’t pay my rent, I’ll end up on the street. If I don’t pay my tuition, I’ll be without a higher education and have to give up on the career I aspire to. But if I don’t pay for a therapist? Well, I’ve managed this long without it, so I can continue living like this, right? Over time, this mindset has turned mental health into a luxury versus a necessity, with my mental well-being ranking high on my list of “things I can afford when I become rich and famous,” alongside a 1997 Corvette and those stylish Demonia fur boots you see on Pinterest.

Taking care of my mental health should not be like a trip to the spa, or treating myself to something extravagant and exclusive. I might be high-functioning, but my mental health significantly impacts my ability to focus and be productive in my work. As a result, I find myself having to work twice as hard in my classes compared to my peers who have access to mental health resources.

Mental health services are a vital component of health care and should be just as accessible as a COVID test or a flu shot. They are essential for ensuring one’s ongoing physical and mental well-being. Accessibility means availability, affordability, and reliability. That’s why I am committed to advocating for mental care as health care until resources are readily available for the mental well-being of everyone, not just the privileged and empowered.


Mental Health Care in the State of Texas


Mental health care in the state of Texas is lacking. I have struggled all my life with mental health; I have been diagnosed with ADHD, Aspergers, and depression. I had to sit in the car for at least 30 minutes every two months to get my medicine because there were no providers close enough to our insurance. I also struggle with ridicule, especially in the state of Texas. Many people in Texas think mental illness is made up and doesn’t exist.

As a resident of Texas, I have realized that many people don’t have access to mental health care because there are not enough clinics in the state. Additionally, insurance doesn’t provide mental health opportunities. Even if you have insurance, the wait times can be a year or more. Moreover, it is looked down upon in the state, so you feel less willing to help yourself because of the people around you.

Mental health has been pushed to the back burner in Texas, and it needs to change. People need the opportunity to seek help with mental health facilities to function as a society. We, as a state, need to be more open and willing to accept people and understand disabilities.


Analysis Paralysis in IL


‘Okay, now I’m going to get started on my final model for studio!’ ‘But what if I fail? I don’t have the experience or the technical skills that my peers have. I’ll probably fail.’ Checks phone for 15 minutes after this internal dialogue ADHD and anxiety have always been the major roadblocks in my development in my adolescence. I have dealt with analysis paralysis, as well as the inability to focus on a task for any period of time.

Analysis paralysis is when an individual cannot make a decision toward an action in a normal timeframe due to overthinking, leading to that person becoming ‘paralyzed’. These afflictions have caused me to miss important deadlines, stopped me from practicing and developing certain skills to gain mastery, and prevented me from developing good social skills at the same rate as my peers. I gained access to mental health services through an online doctor application on my cell phone, and it has made a ton of difference.

I finally felt vindicated that my problems were not just a reflection of my own flaws but things that could be treated and solved. I take a prescription to deal with both my anxiety and ADHD, and it has given me a lot of confidence in my ability to talk to people and deal with life. The main obstacle to my journey with mental health services is the financial cost of maintaining a relationship with a physician and receiving benefits. I think a lot of young adults deal with this issue, as well. The fear that you won’t be able to continue using the services that have given you a new lease on life will prevent you from taking care of your mental health in the first place. Young adults need to have faith in the systems that were set up before them to have faith in themselves and what they are capable of.


My Journey to Access Mental Health Services in IL


As a child, I was known for my vibrant smile and cheerful disposition, but behind my bright exterior, I carried a heavy burden. For years, I battled anxiety and depression, silently struggling to cope with my inner demons.

My journey to access mental health services was a challenging one. I grew up in a family that believed mental health issues were a sign of weakness and something everyone has; I had internalized a stigma that kept me from seeking help. I thought I could manage my feelings on my own and didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems. However, as the weight of my emotions grew heavier and with help from my significant other and his family, I realized that I couldn’t keep going down this path alone. Having left my home situation for a college education, I was away from the toxic stigmatized environment. Thanks to help from my college resources, such as counseling services, I gathered the courage to start therapy and break the cycle of silence and stigma that had held me back for so long.

Accessing mental health services opened a new chapter in my life. It took me two different therapists to find a compassionate therapist who provided a safe space for me to share my thoughts and feelings. Through therapy, I have learned valuable coping strategies, gained insight into my struggles, discovered my ADHD, and begun the journey towards self-acceptance. Over time, my anxiety and depression began to loosen their grip on me, and I felt a newfound sense of hope and resilience.

While it has taken me many years to overcome the obstacles of stigma and self-doubt, accessing mental health services has transformed my life. I discovered the power of vulnerability, self-compassion, and the importance of seeking help when needed. With my newfound strength, I became an advocate for mental health awareness, helping others break free from the chains of silence and find the support they deserved.

Mental health is an essential part of our overall well-being, and seeking help is a sign of courage and strength. Access to mental health services can be life-changing, providing individuals with the tools they need to navigate the challenges of their inner worlds and emerge stronger, happier, and more resilient.


Obstacles Preventing Access to Mental Health Services in Texas


Mental health is something I often prioritize for myself and others around me. It can either take a major toll on a person’s life or be a great drive to success. I struggled the most with my mental health back in high school, facing mental exhaustion and dealing with low self-esteem. I was forced to juggle family troubles while handling the demands of the high school curriculum.

The only access to mental health services was through minimal counseling at Legacy Community Health. During my Junior Year, I scheduled sessions with a counselor, engaging in activities and discussions for around 45 minutes. However, I didn’t feel a significant improvement after graduating through those sessions. I had to accept the changes in my life and change my outlook. I didn’t have faith in the free services I was able to receive.

Obstacles preventing access to mental health services outside of high school included money, selection, and convenience. For most of my life, I did not have access to health insurance, so I put my mental health on the back burner. In the medical field, I feel more comfortable with black doctors due to racial prejudice and health disparities. These fears made me selective, narrowing my options. Searching for affordable health care becomes inconvenient when services are not available where I live. The thought of traveling far to access affordable mental health care demotivates me. These are the obstacles I faced in the past and now in the present, which is why I advocate for more affordable and convenient mental health care for all.


Mental Health Journey in CO


I started struggling with my mental health the summer before eighth grade, around the eve of my thirteenth birthday. I felt increasingly low: I had my first big fights with friends, marinated in the pressure to get good grades, and couldn’t make sense of my changing body and feelings. What made it worse, though, was the feeling that I couldn’t really talk to anyone. My school counselor felt dismissive, and my parents openly said they didn’t believe in therapy. I had no outlet for my stress, so instead, I curled in around it and tried to harden my edges.

My attempts to cope evolved into self-harm and disordered eating. When I graduated high school, a year after my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I moved several states away to college to try to find my sense of self. My depressive thoughts worsened until I was having suicidal thoughts every day. At one point, I went to the college health center and asked to see a therapist. The receptionist casually slid a checklist of “crisis” signs and symptoms to me. “Do any of these apply to you?” she asked. I stared at one of the items, “Are you actively thinking about hurting yourself?” I’m not thinking about hurting myself RIGHT AT THIS MINUTE, I thought. It wasn’t like I was about to run in front of a car in the next five minutes. “No,” I said.

A therapist talked to me for 30 minutes and explained that they only had appointments for students who were actively in crisis. They could give me a referral to an off-campus clinic miles away. Did I want that? “Sure.” I never made an appointment. My issues were stupid anyway. All I wanted to do was die, and I couldn’t even explain why.
I dropped out a few weeks later. I had been valedictorian in high school, and now here I was, failing to do even the one thing I was good at. For the next five years, I tried and failed to get treatment as I bounced around different colleges. I couldn’t afford therapy. Clinicians were too far away. I couldn’t figure out what my insurance covered. I also worked and was in school full time, and I could only made an appointment at night or on the weekends, whereas therapists seemed to only work a typical 9 to 5.

It was only when I was 23, recently graduated, in a bad relationship, and working 4 jobs, that I got help. I met up with my mom and told her I was feeling suicidal. It was only because my parents could pay for my appointments and helped me make my first appointment that I received treatment. Most of my peers who suffer from similar thoughts never get that opportunity. I live in a rural, medically underserved area, and the only practicing therapists here don’t accept insurance and generally have long waitlists. It is simply unaffordable for most people, particularly youth and young adults, to get help if they need it. Even for me, a person with supportive friends and parents who would pay for me, there were simply too many logistical barriers in the way that dissuaded me from accessing care, along with the belief that I didn’t “really” need help – that I just needed to toughen up, that my problems were so minute compared to everyone else’s. Many young people feel this way, and many of them won’t get the health care that they need.