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How much does mental health and addiction cost families?

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Mental health costs our country over 314 billion dollars per year.

Overall, it cost us $275,000+ trying to help our son, Charles.

None of the organizations communicated with each other and the mayhem of mental health and addiction services is overwhelming and disjointed at best.

And scandalously expensive.

I’ve tried to outline some of the monetary costs and would love input from others struggling with these issues, too so that we can have a place that puts all these crazy costs in black and white for others to see.

The staggering costs

Doctors visits, psychiatrist visits, medication, therapist visits, out of network visits, psychological testing. Some covered, much of it was not.

Out of pocket: $10,000

Biofeedback sessions

Out of pocket: $5,000

Intense Outpatient for teens under 18. This was covered by insurance. It was a $40 co-pay for each session, 3 per week for 8-10 weeks. One on Mondays with the family and then the other two that week. There was an initial deposit of $200.

There was supposed to be a follow up and I called several times about this but never got an answer other than a cryptic message about Charles’ sleep medicine. To this day, I don’t know if they didn’t like his sleep medicine, expected him to stop it or what.

Out of pocket: $1,200

Educational Consultant – I am not sure how much this is. I went to Martha Kolbe and I called her to pay and she kept telling me she was sending a bill. She died in 2014 and from what I can gather, she chose not to send us one. She knew we were in dire straits financially from all this and she didn’t need the money.

Out of pocket: $0 (this act of kindness will never be forgotten)

Wilderness Program – $30k since he stayed 10.5 weeks. Of all of the programs, this one was the most organized and we got a great diagnosis.

Out of pocket: $30k

Escort to wilderness program

Out of pocket: $3,500 

Flights, travel, and other expenses going to a new placement:

Out of pocket: $1,500

Therapeutic Boarding School: $72k per year or about $6k per month and he went for about 14 months

Out of pocket:  $84,000

Extra fees and expenses

Out of pocket: $3,500

Our expenses and trips to visit him

Out of pocket: $6,500

Boarding School in Utah included a educational assistant since Charles needed help focusing on getting assignments turned in. (I did love this school and they embraced students who needed mental health support.)

Out of pocket: $70k 

Therapist at regular boarding school  – $120 per month

Out of pocket: $1080 total

Extra expenses including flights, canteen money, special trips

Out of pocket: $5,000

Detox – $1000 co-pay and then they billed us another $3k after his death. Not sure why we got yet another bill but Charles was not here to pay it. I think insurance did cover about $19k.

Out of pocket: $500

Rehab – $21,000 was paid by insurance. We had a $500 co-pay and for some reason we got a bill after his death to pay an additional $6k. We didn’t pay that balance since that bill was in his name. Three weeks. He needed 18 months but we were out of money by now.

Out of pocket: $500

Expenses related to travel and food:

Out of pocket: $500

Sober living room in a house – About $500 per month not including groceries which was probably another $100. We paid full month up front.

Out of pocket: $500

Legal fees, bail and expenses – When he was younger, we paid for the first offense and the legal fees and lawyers. And when he was violated by a police officer we also paid since he was treated unfairly. For other offenses, he had to get court-appointed council.

Out of pocket: $10,000

We had hoped to get him a vivitrol implant for his heroin addiction but unfortunately he died before we got the opportunity. That is out of pocket and if you can find someone that does it in your area, I would guess it’s $3k-$6k.

As one recovery specialist mentioned, even the addicts in recovery have to understand that opiate addiction in particular is a beast unlike any other addiction. Addicts need more support from family and the community to succeed and relapses are more common occurrences.

Which means it’s very expensive if you are in and out of most any rehab facility.

All of this crushed our wallet. We sold our house and had hoped some of the liquidity from that sale would help our son but he died 4 days after it was sold.

We used 401k money, money I had saved for renovations, money I got selling everything I could put my hands on. And of course, a large chunk of our salaries.

My mother and father chipped in for plane tickets and offered emotional support. My in-laws generously took him in at difficult times to give us a break and also provided much needed emotional support. We’d have not gotten to go on vacation at all those 5 years if it had not been for the generosity of our families.

The IRS slaughtered us in taxes pushing us further in debt. There are no loan program for our situation. No grants to apply for. No “fund me” campaigns for your child’s mental health.

We couldn’t save our son who died by suicide in June of 2015. After all that money spent, I had not one mental health professional I could call and ask for advice at the one point I needed it most on Thursday at 3pm on June 4, 2015. His last phone call. I believe he took his life late that night.

Please have the guts to have the conversation.

The cost of not caring is killing our kids and devastating families both emotionally and financially.

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Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

One thought on “How much does mental health and addiction cost families?”

  1. This is just mindblowing to some people, but it doesn’t surprise me at all anymore, and that is both sad and infuriating. After battling major life-threatening health issues of our own, my husband and I were financially devastated. Just as we were beginning to crawl out of the hole, our daughter’s mental illness and addiction issues climaxed, nearly claiming her life. And even though she is clean, sober and doing much better now, her “bad days” have us constantly on edge. Staying on top of mental illness is very, very costly. I know this as a patient and a parent. But the parent perspective is by far the worst, because you’d do anything, sacrifice anything to help your child. I know you and Randy did just that, Anne Moss. You did everything you possibly could to save Charles from the bice grip hold of this wicked disease. Now you are honoring his memory by helping thousands more in the sharing of his story – your story. I cannot begin to tell you how many lives you are impacting through your journey to healing. You never cease to amaze me.

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