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PHOENIX -- In the opening session of a White House conference on mental health, President Barack said it was time to stop hiding the issue.

But money, not shame, seems to be the biggest obstacle for people looking for mental health help, according to a University of Phoenix survey. The survey said 57 percent of people who experienced roadblocks to professional counseling cited financial barriers, followed by 36 percent who cited health insurance coverage.

Lead Faculty Member for University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences and licensed therapist Leslie Baker said insurance companies typically cover depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, but not relational issues.

"Boys seem to have higher rates of depression when their parents are divorced," Baker said."Here we will treat that, but we won't treat the precursor, which is parents getting divorced. It's an interesting conundrum."

Baker said another challenge is that many people don't know where to find professional help. She suggested the following steps:

Determine what kind of practitioner is needed -- licensed counselors and social workers handle relational issues, psychologists can also provide testing and psychiatrists can provide counseling and medication.

Verify the person is licensed through the state board Get a referral from a friend, acquaintance or an insurance company.

Interview the practitioner by phone or in-person. Ask how long he/she has been practicing and in what areas. Find out what his/her approach is to the issue and how long treatment generally lasts.

The University of Phoenix offers free and low-fee services at the Community Counseling Center in Tempe. For more information call 480-557-2217.

Christina Estes, Reporter

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