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Outpatient Treatment for Mental Health in New York

Michael Woodworth

For many individuals in america, mental and behavioral health issues is something they need to deal with on a daily basis. For many of those, the depression, anxiety, and sense of powerlessness is among the most norm scheduled to a lack of treatment options. As the amount of affected individuals expands, outpatient clinics are becoming the treating choice for most Americans and in New York this pattern also holds true.

With the 3rd highest population in america, New York is home to over one million individuals suffering from mental illness. According to the 2015 census, the amount of individuals experiencing mental illness experienced come to an all-time high of 900, 000 people and 528, 000 adolescents (Friedman, Woods, & LaPorte, 2016, p. 4). Regardless of the alarming upsurge in numbers, less than 20% of those damaged by mental health issues receive sufficient, if any treatment at all (Friedman, Woods, & LaPorte, 2016, p. 4).

Although this can be partly because of the individual choosing never to receive care, I really believe there is a direct correlation between the policies and procedures New York has put in place that govern the access, cost, and quality of mental healthcare. THE BRAND NEW York State Office of Mental Health currently has over 50 categories of policies and techniques that govern treatment plans, approved providers, medication, and requirements patients must meet to be cared for, just to name a few (Office of Mental Health, 2017). Because of this, many individuals choose to self-medicate or simply ignore their warning sign rather than offer with the bureaucracy that surrounds behavioral health as well as the negative stigma associated with anyone getting the treatment.

Of the 20% of individuals obtaining mental health services in New York, nearly 71% are through outpatient treatment services. Outpatient treatment can be found as a way of providing access to individuals who are suffering from disorders that may well not require intense inpatient treatment. They are capable of treating disorders such as melancholy, panic, grief, phobias, stress, etc.

Overview on Outpatient Care and attention Systems

Outpatient care can provide a wide variety of services to individuals seeking assistance with their mental and behavioral health. These services include, but aren't limited by: individual counselling, group therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, DBT, art remedy, interventions, lovers and family therapy, and alcoholic beverages and medicine detox. These services derive from intensity and need and tend to be delivered by peer advocates, certified counselors, nurse experts, case managers, scientific psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians.

New York State offers two main avenues of treatment to people seeking outpatient health care; these are a healthcare facility systems and medical programs available within the community. For many people in New York, there are only two ways into these outpatient programs. The first being through a referral from a professional healthcare professional (QHP). This may include a main care medical doctor, clinician, psychologist, nurse specialist, among others (Friedman, Woods, & LaPorte, 2009). The second reason is through courtroom mandated guidance and treatment, and with one in 52 adults in NY on probation or parole, this makes up about many outpatient treatment referrals.

The question now becomes, with such amazing services available why are just 20% in a position to get them? The answer is placed within the guidelines. Although the guidelines do provide anticipations and constraints regarding cost and quality, the majority of outpatient policies give attention to access. These regulations not only determine who is eligible to receive services, but also what services are included in Medicaid and other insurance. So let's have a look at precisely how these policies prevent so many New Yorkers from obtaining satisfactory services.

Hospital Systems

With a healthcare facility system, much like any business, accessibility comes down to resources; and in many clinics the resources are limited. Because of this, outpatient care and attention is reserved for the ones that can not only benefit from it the most, but also those who'll bring the hospital the most earnings. Most of the individuals in NY who are acquiring mental health treatment are included in Medicaid. Those included in Medicaid are by classification 'poor', and despite the need for the procedure are unable to pay the away of pocket expenses associated with it (Garfield, 2016). This simple fact has already established significant influence on the policy makers to establish a list of criteria that must definitely be met in order for Medicaid to pay for the total treatment. Furthermore, they developed a set of reasons that a hospital can deny mental health services to patients.

Unfortunately in New York, lots of the clinics have a board of directors which have little to no medical experience. Instead these are comprised of rich and powerful business specialists from within the community. For example, one prominent medical center in Upstate New York has a table of directors that includes several CEO's and presidents of companies that have direct ties to the local congressmen and assemblymen. Among the people of the plank is actually a longtime friend of the current Governor of NY. These ties to politicians along with a lack of medical knowledge often result in procedures and decisions being designed for the sole reason for profit somewhat than service and in turn make access a lot more difficult.

Community Founded Services

The second health care system is that of community structured resources. That's where the majority of outpatient mental health treatment occurs. Several resources are non-profit organizations that rely heavily on financing from the state of hawaii. Option of these resources are governed by the overall state budget and it is solely based on where in fact the money needs to be allocated that time. Because of this, many community resources are limited in the number of patients they can treat due to the limited annual money available. Much like the hospitals, this triggers the city resources to refuse service to numerous individuals that need treatment.

In basic, these services are delivered in three ways and are usually based on the severity of the need. Nursing homes offer outpatient mental health counseling for people who may require a higher level of level. Clinics often utilize psychiatrists who have the ability to recommend and prescribe psychotropic medications for those suffering from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

The second item for patients is a privately or publically run outpatient medical clinic. These facilities usually utilize certified clinicians who are supervised with a medical psychologist. Although they can offer the same degree of guidance services as the hospital, they are not equipped to recommend or keep an eye on medications. These facilities are mainly used to concentrate on the less intensive mental health disorders such as depressive disorder, anxiousness, PTSD, and habit.

The third option is guidance and guidance by having a religious head. Although this program can provide assistance with minor mental health issues, it is seldom covered under insurance. That is because of the fact that in most cases, the religious head does not maintain the required education or credentials to be recognized by the state of hawaii as the best form of mental health treatment. However, as a result many religious leaders choose to pursue certifications in mental health to allow them to better provide their congregation.

Barriers to Care

New York has several different levels of attention which include rigorous outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, step down treatment, carrying on day treatment, and assertive community treatment (Friedman, Woods, & LaPorte, 2009, p. 12). Each which is a step within the continuum of good care provided by New York Status Office of Mental Health. In most cases, these steps work when utilized appropriately by the individual and adopted through with by the service provider.

Unfortunately the best barrier comes in the follow through of both patient and the company. With over 380, 000 men and women and 575, 000 adolescents in NY experiencing severe and prolonged mental disorder (Friedman, Woods, & LaPorte, 2009, p. 12), it is straightforward for an individual to fall through the splits of the system. Many providers have limited time and resources to locate a patient that missed an appointment, or maybe check in frequently to see if they're alright. Because of this, many patients will feel unsupported and stop treatment altogether.

As previously mentioned, outpatient is usually reserved for those with a professional recommendation and as such the gain access to can sometimes seem to be quite limited. Within the clinics that I've worked in, an individual could turn up only following a referral had been received. After they have arrived, they would go through several interviews and assessments to find out if they would take advantage of the treatments the center offered. If they would, they could start treatment. If however they were thought to not benefit, they might be described another clinic or even to the local hospital for further thought.

In NY, the need for mental health services are far greater than the resources available and for that reason every medical center and outpatient service does seem to have an comprehensive waitlist for services. I used to be a case manager for a supportive living program dealing with veterans experiencing mental health disorders as well as addiction and chronic homelessness. My program was a 12 month intensive cure and got 24 mattresses/apartments available. At any moment, the waitlist for this program had well over 50 individuals posted on it.

Outpatient gain access to is a serious concern in NY and so considerably has still left much to be desired. For many those who require outpatient mental health services, access comes with three major barriers: Finding a clinic, getting endorsement from Medicaid and insurance, and actually getting to the clinic. Much too often these barriers hinder individuals from receiving satisfactory, if any services they so frantically need.

With the constant change to Medicaid waiver services and insurance, it is difficult for clinics to simply accept every patient in need. With private insurance, been able care, and straight Medicaid placing strict eligibility and billing limitations on the treatment centers, it is amazing they are in a position to stay open at all. These laws are triggering the clinics to become more business concentrated instead of centering on the real reason they are present.

As due to the clinics focusing more on the business, they are more inclined to accept patients they can profit from the most. This ultimately will sway more towards those with private insurance because they are more likely to get agreement for ongoing treatment. This leaves the majority of individuals suffering from mental health disorders to fend for themselves.

As with any treatment, a referral is required to receive treatment within an outpatient setting. Wanting to get this referral poses the second struggle to convenience. A lot of those suffering from these disorders do not have a primary medical doctor and are likely to go to free clinics if indeed they seek assistance whatsoever. Because of this, many individuals are simply approved medications like Zoloft by the participating physician and informed they have a cookie cutter diagnosis of depression or anxiety. On average, it takes practically half a year of trial and error in medication before a referral is given and accepted by insurance or Medicaid. In too many situations, the individual has abadndoned treatment before achieving the half a year.

Getting to a medical center often poses a barrier to people in a low income bracket. These individuals are unable to buy transportation on their own and rely greatly on others or open public transportation to keep mobility. This requires those to find treatment centers that are on bus or subway collection if they are now living in the city, or friends and family if they stay in a far more rural location. This causes unneeded instability in treatment because of the patient's failure to commit to a treatment routine.

For the greater than 30 million parents in the United States that require but do not receive mental health services, 45 percent declare that the price is the largest deterrent. The average outpatient service can cost between $100 and $5, 000 based on the service and the credentials of the service provider (Babakian, 2013). In New York City the average rates for outpatient services are as follows:

  • $80 - $120 for a 45-55 tiny standard counseling session (Babakian, 2013).
  • $200 - $300 for a 45 minute treatment with a psychologist or psychiatrist (Babakian, 2013).
  • $60 - $100 for group periods facilitated by way of a licensed provider (Babakian, 2013).
  • $300 - $ 460 for specific art, music, and/or entertainment therapy classes with a qualified professional (Babakian, 2013).

As with any medical service these can be payed for using self-pay, private insurance, and government insurance such as Medicaid and Medicare. Regrettably due to the restrictions enforced by the mental health procedures in New York, many individuals are required to pay a substantial amount out of pocket. As a result, many outpatient providers offer patients sliding scale charges which is often 30 percent less than standard fees, payment ideas with and without interest, and in a few situations income founded fees (Babakian, 2013).

Although outpatient treatment is included in most insurance, it is hardly ever covered in full. This triggers many patients to stop treatment because of this of an inability to pay the deductible or co-pay. At this time, New York does not offer any additional assistance with co-pays or medical charges for individuals acquiring outpatient services. However, if the individual were to be admitted with an inpatient clinic therefore of a mental hygiene arrest or er visit, it might be covered in full by many insurance agencies including Medicaid. This creates a situation that is counterproductive in that we do not offer treatment as an early on intervention but instead offer it following the individual has reached a breaking point.

In order to get an insiders thoughts and opinions of the current obstacles within outpatient good care, I could interview Megan Cortese, LCAT. Ms. Cortese is a qualified fine art therapist and older clinician in an exceedingly prominent outpatient medical clinic in Rochester, NY. During the interview I simply asked her what she considers as a hurdle to her current and future clients.

When asked what she'd want to change about the overall way mental health services are given, she had the next to say.

The current system of mental health services has two major defects; financing and accountability. Ms. Cortese mentioned that credited to budgetary constraints, lack of administration financing, and overall current economic climate struggles the quality of care is now lower. She stated that the specialized medical personnel are underpaid and told to meet with as much clients as is feasible in a day. She stated that this triggers many clinicians to burn up and therefore provide a subpar level of treatment.

Ms. Cortese also stated that the lack of accountability from patients on Medicaid is absurd. She stated that after a patient on Medicaid does not show to a scheduled appointment that there are no penalties to the patient including the cancelation charge that those folks with private insurance could have. Ms. Cortese explained that this triggers patients to consistently miss appointments and therefore lose out on beneficial treatments.

Quality of Care

As for quality of good care, New York will seem to master regulating the providers and clinics. The New York Talk about Justice Center monitors, regulates, investigates, and enforces all policies regarding the good treatment of people under care. As a result, every clinic is kept to the same requirements and accountability with regards to the treatment of patients. Although this is effective in providing satisfactory and proper treatment to all those involved in outpatient treatment centers, it is merely effective if the patients have the ability to acquire services.

Policy and Influence

So given that we have examined how these polices can impede treatment, we must next understand not only the way the policies come to be, but also who has the power to influence them. Health coverage in the current modern world poses several complex legal, ethical, and social questions and therefore require certified individuals to write, approve, and assimilate them into the current medical care systems. Much like the nation all together, New York relies heavily on Federal officials to do this objective while concurrently esteem and protect the privileges of patients. Because of this, several highly diverse and complicated categories are tasked with the oversight of these policies.

Healthcare regulations in New York are developed through the three branches of federal government; the judiciary, legislature, and professional branches. The judiciary branch is accountable for overseeing new guidelines to ensure that they do not violate any real human privileges as well meet all legal and financial recommendations. The legislature reserves the right to conduct hearings in an attempt to gather sufficient data from all functions associated with the plan. This finally provides additional inspections and balances to guarantee the legality and efficiency of the proposed policy. The professional branch, or Governor's office retains the power to signal the new proposed policy into legislations after they have managed to get through the checks and amounts from the judicial and legislative branch (Gostin, 1995).

Now despite a significant set of assessments and amounts within NY, policies aren't always researched as they must be. Far too often members of the three administration branches are influenced by exterior factors and organizations. As mentioned, outpatient treatment in New York has many governing bodies; which along with providers, insurance firms, and many special interest categories all have a means of influencing the current policies. Each of these groups have a substantial impact on the access, cost, and quality of health care that patients obtain while taking part in outpatient services. The true question is who gets the vitality and are they deploying it to benefit the patient or are they simply looking out for their bottom line.

So let's begin from underneath of the hierarchy and work our way up. At the bottom of the outpatient ladder are the small and hardly ever read from special interest communities. In New York these are organizations such as; NAMI (Country wide Alliance on Mental Health problems), NMHA (National Mental Health Connection), as well as smaller organizations located throughout the state of hawaii. The main concentration of these teams is to teach the public, affect change and improvement, and advocate for the patients.

Many of these groups rely greatly on petitions and general population outcry to influence change and policy at the bigger degrees of the state. Despite the fact that these organizations do not bring the affect of some other groups, with scores of concerned voters behind them, they're usually quite effective.

Sitting on another rung of the ladder will be the providers who impact treatment and policy by operating as a deciding factor in regards to what if any treatment is recommended. The providers are in essence the frontline of the outpatient world. The providers conduct the assessments that provide the information to choose the most beneficial treatment option. The providers have the ability to influence policy by simply choosing a plan of action. If the majority of providers choose the same treatment for a specific diagnosis, then chances are that the governing bodies will consider that to be the go-to treatment. Once this is actually the case, it is very likely that insurance policies will be rewritten to echo this treatment as the satisfactory one.

Sitting on another rung is the insurance firms. The insurance companies have significant affect over policy simply because they pay for it. Insurance settings who gets treatment, where they get treatment, and what quality of treatment they can acquire. That is of course all predicated on what tier level the patient's insurance plan is on. Eventually, the insurance provider has the capacity to approve or deny treatments simply predicated on the overall cost and because of this many patients are unable to gain access to necessary treatments and medications.

Now, near the top of the ladder is the state organizations such as Division of Health (DOH), Office of Mental Health (OMH), Status Legislature, and the Governor. It really is implied these people have the best influence over access, cost, and quality of outpatient mental health treatment. Insurance plan recommendations are provided from the DOH and OMH to the legislature who then agrees and moves them along to the Governor, or disagrees and transmits them back to the companies for revision. Once in the hands of the Governor, the insurance plan is either approved or rejected.

As most healthcare in NY is Medicaid funded, the Governor has significant impact over who gets treatment and what treatments can be found by just approving their state budget. When the Governor approves a policy which allows more usage of treatment, he must also approve an increase in taxes to maintain money. However, if the Governor will not pass a policy for increased attention, they may lose ratings and for that reason votes. As a result, it is an extremely complex balancing action when influencing health care policy.

Although the aforementioned groups seem to have the most impact over healthcare in New York, I found a group of individuals that seem to be to have impact on the Governor himself. The United Professional medical Individuals Union (1199SEIU) is a union of pharmacists, nurses, and medical doctors located throughout the country. The influential electricity of this group is incredible. In 2009 2009, the full power of the organization was thought at that time Governor David Paterson.

With a severe surge in Medicaid costs in New York, Governor Paterson proposed $3. 5 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program. The Governor proposed shifting monies from inpatient private hospitals and into outpatient clinics which were considerably less expensive (Eide & DiSalvo, 2015). This might have led to a 2% damage in income for the inpatient nursing homes annually.

Medicaid is the principal source of money for the inpatient nursing homes which hire a majority of 1199SEIU members. The union responded to the Governor's proposal with a significant advertisement blitz which cost over $1 million weekly. After per month of offers belittling the Governor, Paterson retreated and instead approved tax increases and reductions to other programs (Eide & DiSalvo, 2015). As a result of the serious impact by the 1199SEIU, the entire quality, gain access to, and cost of care and attention suffered. In an act that simply anchored their own passions, the patients endured.

Overall, the diverse and effective variety of outpatient treatments available in NY is quite impressive and may provide essential assistance to a lot of people. However, the lack of convenience and increasing out of pocket costs create significant barriers to those individuals who need the procedure the most. For New York to effectively serve those requiring mental health treatment, it's important for the policymakers to start thinking in conditions of care somewhat than profit.


Babakian, G. (2013, Dec 17). JUST HOW MUCH Does Mental Health Care Cost? Retrieved from Clear Health Costs: https://clearhealthcosts. com/blog/2013/12/how-much-does-mental-health-care-cost-part-1-series/

Cortese, M. (2017, January 29). Outpatient Barriers. (M. Woodworth, Interviewer)

Garfield, R. (2016, Oct 19). The Coverage Space: Uninsured Low of the Adults in State governments that Do Not Develop Medicaid. Retrieved from Kaiser Family Basis: http://kff. org/uninsured/issue-brief/the-coverage-gap-uninsured-poor-adults-in-states-that-do-not-expand-medicaid/

Lawrence Gostin, J. L. (1995). The formulation of health plan by the three branches of federal government. Retrieved in the National Academies of Sciences Executive Medication: https://www. nap. edu/read/4771/chapter/17

Michael B. Friedman, G. W. (2009). New York State's Mental Health System. NY: Mental Health Association of New York City.

Office of Mental Health. (2017, January 1). OMH Official Policy Manual. Retrieved from Office of Mental Health: https://www. omh. ny. gov/omhweb/policymanual/contents. htm

Stephen Eide, D. D. (2015). The Union That Rules New York. The City Journal.

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