The choice to reach out for mental health support is an admirable one, though sometimes overwhelming. It can also be frustrating to have to start over with new mental health providers after a move or a bad experience with a past network.
A mental health provider network can offer you several different professionals to choose from, specializing in a variety of different mental health issues. The question is how to choose the right mental health provider network. Besides finding a network with providers who accept your insurance, these are a few questions you should ask before you make a choice:
How Soon Can I Get Started?
One issue that many new patients run into when it comes to mental health provider networks is availability. With therapy on the rise in recent years, many mental health provider networks have long waitlists or fully booked professionals. This means you could be waiting weeks or months before you have your first intake appointment with some networks.
You can mitigate this risk by taking a look at the providers listed by the network before you get started. Each bio should list whether the provider is currently accepting new patients or not. If there are providers who specialize in your needs accepting new patients, you may have a better chance at beginning therapy sooner.
You can also call the network to express interest in their services. During that initial call, they should be able to tell you whether or not there is a waitlist for mental health services. If immediate access is important to you and the mental health provider network you call has a waitlist, consider contacting another network before making a decision.
What Is the Network’s Service Area?
Many mental health provider areas serve a wide region, perhaps centering on a metropolis but extending into surrounding cities. Others might serve an entire county or multiple counties. But it’s important to know that there’s a provider’s office within easy driving distance of your location — or, if you take public transportation, within your transit route. If not, check to see if they offer any remote or telehealth services, as detailed below.
Do Providers Offer In-Person Services? Telehealth Services?
Telehealth therapy services existed for those who couldn’t make it to the office in person long before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after 2020 they became much more common. Now, even though many mental health providers have opened their doors once again, some people still prefer telehealth services. In addition to health concerns, telehealth can be a good option if your therapist’s office is a considerable commute away from your home or if you have mobility or transportation issues.
On the other hand, some patients prefer a face-to-face setting. This can feel more personal, and you won’t have to worry about technical issues that often come with video conferencing. There are some forms of therapy which are intensive and tend to be better suited to an in-person visit. Whatever your needs for your therapy setting, it’s important to find out whether the provider network has providers who can accommodate them.
What Is the Process For Receiving Mental Health Care?
Most mental health providers will have a process to help them get a sense of what kind of care you need and match you with the right provider. This may involve an evaluation and/or an intake appointment, followed by matching you with a provider. You might reach out to them requesting a specific provider, which should be taken into consideration. However, every process will vary. Make sure you know what to expect before you begin.
Do They Offer Providers Who Are a Good Fit For Me?
Beyond accessibility, you also want to know that the provider is a good fit for you personally. That means finding someone who specializes in the type of mental health support that you might need, such as a specific type of therapy or condition. If you are struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety due to IVF treatment, you may want a reproductive mental health specialist.
Then there’s diversity and demographic fits. Some patients may feel more comfortable with a provider who shares their gender or race. LGBT patients often feel better understood by mental health professionals within the LGBT community.
It also helps to know the process of working with and choosing a provider. In most cases, there is an intake appointment where your provider can assess your case and give you an idea of what to expect from them. Is it easy to switch providers if you find the provider you choose is not a good fit? Does the network take your preferences into account when helping you find a provider?
If you have preferences about the type of provider you want, you will need a mental health provider network that has available providers matching that description.
What Is the Policy In Case of Emergencies?
Seeking mental health support can be a trying time, and there may be times when you need a little extra support outside of the typical therapy hours. If you have an emergency that is beyond your current capability to handle alone, such as a drastic life change or a triggering episode, you want to know that you have a way to reach out.
Sometimes your therapist might provide you with their email address or phone number so that you can reach out to them outside of their appointments. No therapist is available at all times, but they should be able to help you through an emergency. The mental health provider network may also have an after-hours line in case of emergencies. Ask about the policy for emergencies before you get started.
Looking For a Mental Health Provider Network? Check Out Rivia
At Rivia, we have a holistic approach to mental health that includes a focus on the relationship between provider and individual, an interdisciplinary team to meet patients’ complex needs, and guidance to help you reach your goals in life. Contact us today to learn more or to set up a clinical consultation.