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If you’re seeking mental healthcare in retirement, you’re not alone.
The CDC estimates that about 20% of people ages 55 and older struggle with a mental health condition. In 2020, this number was higher — the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 24% of adults over age 65 reported being anxious or depressed.
Seeking professional help is relatively common among retirees, says financial therapist George Blount of nBalance Financial in Boston.
In his practice, Blount most often sees retirees feeling anxious. “It’s really focused on a couple of areas that are primarily around anxiety,” he told Insider. “Am I going to have enough to eat and will I have a place to stay? Am I going to be able to care for myself? Did I do the right things? That starts to manifest into all types of things.”
But, taking care of these feelings early on is essential, he said. “What starts with normal anxiety, depending on how much it ravels up, can morph into a number of things.”
Getting help can prevent a typical bout of anxiety from turning into something more. Here are two steps to take to get mental health help if you’re struggling in retirement.
1. Find out what benefits are available to you
Starting out, it will be important to understand how you’ll pay for mental healthcare, and the health insurance you have in retirement will play a big part in your decisions.
If you’re already on Medicare, you’ll get assistance with covering these costs through your health insurance, specifically Medicare Part B. Benefits through this plan include individual and group therapy, testing, evaluations, and medication management.
For others with private insurance, your insurance provider should explain your benefits, and whether or the extent to which these services are covered. If you bought your own health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, mental health services are required to be covered.
If you don’t have Medicare or private insurance, or mental health services aren’t covered by your plan, there are some ways to find affordable services. Many counselors and therapists offer sliding-scale plans, where services are priced based on income. That could help you to reduce costs if you plan to pay out of pocket.
There are also free or low-cost services available through state and local governments. Searching for your state or county’s programs online could be a good way to find what’s available to you.
2. Seek out the right professional
For those who are struggling with the transition from working to retirement, Blount says that a life coach or career coach might be the right move.
“If they are dealing more with the transition into retirement and whether or not they want their career to end, they may seek a career counselor or a life coach, as opposed to a mental health professional, to actually talk about that type of transition,” Blount said.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the financial aspects of retirement, a financial therapist might be the right move. Financial therapists can help you understand and unpack your relationship with money. “I’m trying to make sure that we understand the emotional relationship to our hierarchy of needs,” Blount said. “A lot of the stress or a lot of the anxiety, a lot of the things that we are searching for, it usually comes from answering those hierarchical questions.”
Connecting with a therapist or counselor could be a good first step. That person can help you identify what you need and provide referrals if you’re not sure where to turn.