Coping financially in the midst of mental illness

2 MIN READ | #blog

Losing a job is never easy, even under normal circumstances. Losing a job or needing to take extended time off of work due to mental illness, however, comes with its own unique set of pressures to navigate—and can have a major impact on your family’s finances.

Finding quality care is exceptionally important when it comes to your mental health. However, the costs for care can add up quickly, ranging from hundreds of dollars for short-term care like counseling or drug therapy to tens of thousands of dollars for issues that require long-term solutions or in-patient hospital care.

However, you needn’t panic. Loss of work or having to take significant time off due to mental illness may be more common than you may realize. While this can have a financial impact on your family, remember that you are not alone. There’s help at hand.

Covering the costs: Finding the right financial resources

In these uncertain times of global changes, job losses, furloughs, and increased stress, many people are experiencing changes to their mental health that impact their ability to work. In fact, more than one in four American adults have a diagnosable mental disorder.1 Depression, a common mental disorder, is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.2

While not always the case, a mental illness diagnosis might mean you will need to adjust how often you work or the type of work you do, or even mean a potential loss of work, all of which can impact your earning ability and finances. Plus the cost of treatment adds up quickly: average out-of-pocket therapy costs can range from $60 to $120 per session,3 and the average cost for acute mental health inpatient care is almost $10,000 a week.4 So, planning ahead for significant stressors that may happen is the biggest favor you can do for your family. What’s more, it will make a significant and positive difference to your current and future mental well-being.

Below, we explore some of the resources available to make the journey easier for you and your family, and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones now for the future.

1. Disability insurance

Disability insurance can be a critical resource if you are unable to perform the duties of your job due to mental health issues. Certain forms of disability insurance may cover a range of mental illness with no limitation for the duration of benefits. This type of insurance can be used for substance abuse issues, depression, anxiety, and more. These policies may be offered by your employer, or you can purchase them through an independent broker. When looking into this option, remember to ask if the specific policy covers mental health. Policies that do will replace a portion of your income while you are unable to work and being treated for mental illness or substance abuse issues.

2. Whole life insurance

Knowing that you have resources beyond your savings account can be its own form of therapy and comfort. Whole life insurance is a type of life insurance that provides a traditional benefit to your beneficiaries and can also build a guaranteed* cash value. As premium payments are made into a policy, this cash value will grow, tax deferred. One advantage of this cash value is that a policyowner can make a withdrawal of the available cash value in the event of an emergency, for any obstacle that a policy owner may face.

3. Health insurance

Having health insurance can provide much-needed peace of mind if you are diagnosed with mental illness. If you don’t already have health insurance, purchasing it will help increase your access to and breadth of treatment options.

Many employers — as well as the Affordable Care Act Marketplace5 — offer HMO and PPO options. Plus, an increasing number of companies now offer health savings accounts (HSAs), which allow you to deposit money that earns interest and can be withdrawn tax-free to cover out-of-pocket costs, including visits to the psychologist, psychiatrist, medications, COBRA premiums, and more.

Remember, plans purchased through the government or the Affordable Care Act Marketplace are not allowed to deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, including mental health or substance abuse issues.

4. Employer-provided assistance

Many employers provide employer-provided assistance (EAP) programs that address and offer help for a range of mental health issues. These can include but are not limited to: depression, stress, anxiety, grief, psychiatric disorders, family issues, and substance abuse. Organizations that offer EAPs offer free services that are available to you and, in many cases, your spouse and family members as well.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for a helping hand

Financial stability and preparedness can be a source of confidence for both the family member who is diagnosed, as well as his or her loved ones. But you don’t have to navigate finding solutions alone. A qualified financial professional can help reduce the stress of covering treatments, bills and other needs. More importantly, they can help you put financial protections in place now should your family be affected by mental illness.

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2020, 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY

2022-140793 Exp. 7/2024

Not seeing what you’re looking for?

The Guardian Network®

Living Confidently is powered by The Guardian Network.


1 Mental Health Disorder Statistics, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020.







*All whole life insurance policy guarantees are subject to the timely payment of all required premiums and the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Policy loans and withdrawals affect the guarantees by reducing the policy’s death benefit and cash values. Some whole life polices do not have cash values in the first two years of the policy and don’t pay a dividend until the policy’s third year. Talk to your financial representative and refer to your individual whole life policy illustration for more information.