Mental Health Treatment: Don't Lose Access as a Travel Nurse

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By Lindsay Gantz

April 19, 2023



How to Not Lose Access to Mental Health Treatment As A Travel Nurse

Are you excited to start travel nursing but unsure how to maintain access to mental health treatment? I was ecstatic when I accepted my first travel nursing job, but little did I know the choice would soon cause me to lose access to my beloved therapist of 3+ years. This sent my mental health spiraling. Travel nurses can avoid my same predicament with a little planning ahead. Here are some ways travel nurses can maintain access to mental health treatment while on assignment.

mental health treatment

Ask Your Current Therapist About Telehealth

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many practitioners have started offering telehealth to clients. If you have a therapist now, depending on the state they are licensed in, they may or may not be able to practice across state lines (for example, if they are in New York and you accept an assignment in Georgia). It is important to ask your therapist if a move will impact their ability to work with you. Many will make exceptions if you tell them your move away is not permanent.

Avoid Gaps in Your Insurance Coverage

Another big reason travel nurses lose access to mental health care is when their insurance status changes. This is a broad topic, and there is no “right” choice for any travel nurse when it comes to choosing insurance coverage.  No matter what, keep your mental health coverage needs in mind when deciding. If you decide to use your agency’s insurance, beware of gaps in coverage between assignments. You can also ask your therapist if they will accept self-pay if they cannot accept your new insurance.

Find Out About Employee Assistance Programs

mental health treatment

Many travel nurse agencies realize the huge toll working in healthcare takes on our mental health. Often, agencies will give nurses access to Employee Assistance Programs (or EAPs) that allow nurses between 5-10 free visits with a mental health professional. This can be a huge benefit to nurses who switch agencies and may not always have the same health insurance. EAPs can also help you quickly book an appointment with a new therapist when you move to a new state.

Call Your Health Insurance Company

When you move states, sometimes a quick way to land a new therapist is to call your health insurance company directly and ask if they can help you find a qualified mental health professional. Rather than Googling and searching yourself, concierge services at insurance companies might speed up the process of booking an appointment.

Try an Online Therapist

Online therapy also exploded after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many travel nurses use services like BetterHelp, Cerebral, and Talkspace to maintain mental health coverage. Some services accept health insurance, and some only allow self-pay. Know that these services will also ask you what state you are in because many of their therapists are restricted to practicing only with clients in the same state.

Use Prescription Delivery Services

A great way travel nurses can keep up with mental health medications is by using prescription delivery services. Your pharmacy might offer prescription delivery (like my CVS pharmacy did, for example), or those who qualify can try online services like Hers, which allow you to connect with a prescriber and get medications sent to your door.

Remember the Importance of Self Care

mental health treatment

While it is crucial to have access to mental health treatment and therapy as a travel nurse, I also cannot underestimate the importance of self-care. Travel nurses can engage in self-care activities such as meditation, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and connecting with a support system.

Travel nursing can lead to a lot of big, exciting changes in your life. That said, you should take steps to ensure that this does not include changes in your mental health routine. You will only love your travel nursing assignment more if you are thriving and at your best mentally.

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)

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