Buying time to sort things out
May 21, 2019 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I think my mental health problems are making it hard to get a job. I am running out of money. Where can I go to start getting mental health treatment on Medicaid? Is there any other kind of assistance I can apply for while I'm sorting everything out?

I have previously been diagnosed with major depression, generalized anxiety, and executive dysfunction (and it was suggested maybe PTSD). I have been having an especially hard time for the past year, and I think it is serious. It is also interfering with my ability to find a job (and I am worried about whether I could hold one down, based on how things have gone lately). As time goes on, it gets harder to make progress. I can hardly focus on anything, I struggle to read anything more than a page, and I keep losing track of important things like application deadlines.

I am living with family right now, but I am still running out of money thanks to loan payments and living expenses. I can't understand how my Medicaid benefits work, or how to apply for anything else. I don't even know what other assistance might be available to me.

Are there organizations that will help walk me through this? What is the first thing I can do to start taking care of this stuff? I don't think I need anything permanent. I think I just need help getting started before I can progress on my own. But for now, I am seriously worried that I cannot rely on myself for anything. I am hoping that writing this question means I am ready to start making things better for myself.

This is in Maryland, USA. I do not have a car.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
OK, there are a couple of other things you can do.

Go to My Dhr Benefits.

This is a one stop site for applying for all state benefits.

Apply for food stamps. If you need help right away, you can ask for emergency food stamps which you can get within a week.

Apply for temporary disability; this is only about $178 a month but it's better than nothing. Applying for TD means you also have to apply for regular disability.

Most of the time you'll do everything online or over the phone. If you have to go into an office, call and ask about transportation.

As for Medicaid, call your local health department and ask to speak to someone about your Medicaid benefits; you'll probably be transferred to an insurance navigator. They're trained specifically to help people make sense of the MD insurance options.

Ask specifically about mental health benefits; you can get free therapy, free psychiatric care, even psychological rehabilitation programs. Right now I bet you need someone to talk to, if you don't already have one, and psych meds can be really helpful.

Ask to be tested for ADHD once you have mental health care in place. It's a lot more common in adults than people think, and you don't have to be hyperactive. Primarily inattentive ADHD is a thing (ask me how I know) but tends to be diagnosed less often, especially in women.

It doesn't hurt to ask social services or mental health professionals if they can suggest anything else.

Memail me if you have any questions you don't want made public.
posted by Archipelago at 11:28 AM on May 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I can't understand how my Medicaid benefits work, or how to apply for anything else. I don't even know what other assistance might be available

A community health worker in Maryland may be able to help with Medicaid, and the link to the IPHI includes a phone number to call, and they may have ideas about how to find one. The National Provider Identifier database also lists Community Health Workers in Maryland, including their location, and a brief description of the general services provided. In addition, there are a few health insurance resources listed on the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page.

Also, transportation (i.e. taxi or reimbursement) to medical and mental health appointments (and pharmacies) is likely covered by Medicaid, and it may be referred to as Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) in Maryland, but this should be verified.

Where can I go to start getting mental health treatment on Medicaid?

It looks like the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration offers a toll-free number for assistance or to answer questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-888-1965. Other resources for finding therapists that may take Medicaid are listed on the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page.

Are there organizations that will help walk me through this?

You may want to explore getting a referral to Occupational Therapy from your primary care provider, because they may be able to help you with getting organized and finding services that you qualify for, as well as recommend various exercises to help with things like attention and organization.

You may also want to look into Vocational Rehabilitation in Maryland, although it looks more limited than the services offered by my state, but it could be worthwhile to contact them - it can be similar to Occupational Therapy, just with a lot more resources available, and they may have referral ideas if they are not able to offer services.

What is the first thing I can do to start taking care of this stuff?

You may want to consider contacting your doctor and reporting your neurological concerns and asking for a CT scan, given the severity of your symptoms and the significance of the decline, and due to how psychological tests tend to indicate a need to rule out physical symptoms first. My anecdata is that my neurological symptoms got worse over time, and then I finally got a CT scan after reporting transient vision loss in one eye, and as it turned out, it wasn't just depression, generalized anxiety, and PTSD (nor ADHD or hypoglycemia).

Also, when I had two weeks to get my house in order, I got file folders, and a file box. I now have a tremendous amount of inbound paper that I struggle to deal with, but early on, having a separate folder for each benefit application, bill, etc. was very helpful. Please be kind to yourself, and yes, writing this Ask does seem like an important step forward.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:47 PM on May 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

When I was on Medicaid, my plan let me self-refer to mental health therapy. I went to a licensed clinical social worker to help me with paperwork and executive functioning disasters. I would do things like have her sit next to me while I called other places and chat while I sorted mail. It was very helpful.

Here's a list of LCSWs who take Medicaid in Maryland (you can narrow down the location further).

You might want to double-check with your Medicaid plan (by calling the number on your card) that you can self-refer. If you can't, I would start at a physician to get the referral. Just say what you said here or bring the question with you (or show it to the doctor on your phone).
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:29 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

If "loan payments" means "student loan payments," if you have no income (or benefits only) you should be able to get onto an income-driven repayment plan for your federal loans that will mean paying little to nothing while you're earning so little. (That doesn't help with any private loans you may have, I know.)
posted by praemunire at 12:06 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Maryland has an info page Navigating Maryland's Behavioral Health System that has some good resources (note that the Maryland Community Services database link leads to a 404 error page, but it seems to be an error they made in posting a link to a search and 211 Maryland is the correct site.)

I'm in a different state but I have been through (and in many ways am still in) a similar situation to yours, and I know how challenging it is to navigate these systems, never mind just deciding to begin to navigate these systems. If you're comfortable letting a mod update this with a slightly more specific location it might be possible for us to find a local community organization that can help guide you. Or feel free to MeMail me - I'm living on short-term disability from the state and SNAP right now and getting help from multiple local organizations as well as a Medicaid-accepting therapist, and I'd be happy to provide any suggestions or support I can.
posted by camyram at 6:01 AM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

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