Behavioral Health

Barriers to Obtaining Behavioral Health Care

As we go through this course, we will find that there are many barriers to obtaining behavioral health services.

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Some of those barriers are financial in that many services are not 100% covered by insurance.

Some practitioners do not accept any insurance, only cash and the client must then submit the bill to the carrier, usually for partial reimbursement.

There are not enough practitioners in many places in America and the world. For example, there are 27 child psychiatrists per 100,000 children in New York State. (Links to an external site.)

“Ghana has a population of approximately 28 million people, yet the country has an estimated 18 to 25 psychiatrists, up from 11 psychiatrists in 2011.1-3 Compared with the United States, which has 10.54 psychiatrists per 100,000 people (approximately 1 psychiatrist per 9,500 people), Ghana has .058 psychiatrists per 100,000 people (approximately 1 psychiatrist per 1.7 million people). (Smalls-Mantey, 2019).

There are approximately 8,300 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists in the US and over 15 million children and adolescents in need of the special expertise of a child and adolescent psychiatrists (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2019) retrieved from: (Links to an external site.)

Stigma is a barrier to obtaining behavioral health care. Many cultures do not accept the concept of mental illness, believing instead that the person is possessed or is “cursed.”

Denial is a barrier to behavioral mental health services as in “I don’t have a drinking problem. I can quit anytime I want.”

Immigration status is a barrier to behavioral health services. Being undocumented in these times discourages individuals from seeking care as ICE, the immigration enforcement officials are now coming to courthouses and hospitals to remove those individuals who are lacking citizenship or tourist documentation. US citizen children are also failing to receive appropriate services as their parents are afraid to bring the child in for services for fear of family separation/deportation. Lastly, immigrant children are being denied mental health services after being traumatized by being separated from their families and detained indefinitely in strange surroundings. (Links to an external site.)


Smalls-Mantey, A. (2019). A reflection on Ghana’s mental health system. Current Psychiatry, 18(11), e3-e5. Retrieved from: (Links to an external site.)

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