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Inpatient, outpatient, PHP, emergency… These terms and constructs are just a few of the pieces in a robust and comprehensive healthcare ecosystem. However, as of 2022, each of the areas are islands in the stream with poor connectivity and almost no coordination between them. And when someone gets stranded, they tend to be out of luck.

As Americans, we often look for the easiest, fastest, and simplest answer for whatever issue is at hand. Hungry? Order Chick-fil-A through Uber. Sick? Go to urgent care. The list of examples goes on. And we understand; at Simply Psych, we are experts in taking complex concepts and streamlining them for our clients (and for our clients’ patients.)

But unlike the food service industry or even the traditional medical realm, mental health’s potholes in the interstate highway of referrals are chasmic. 

Other industries are developed because there is money, will-power, and innovation fueling the growth. Identifying and getting enrolled in cancer treatment or substance use treatment is pretty straightforward. Why? Because we’ve poured tons of money into the infrastructure. Investment at the national level in mental health is long overdue. But alas! There is hope…

Now entering the arena: 988.

For years, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has been created and staffed by local agencies that want to help. The coordination between national and local was rudimentary; it’s led to dropped calls and missed opportunities for care. Mirroring the lack of operational infrastructure is the lack of consistent, robust funding. Thus, many centers are taking on fundraising efforts in order to bolster their local offerings.

And that was when the National Suicide Prevention Line was a full 10 digit number:  800-273-8255.

What do you think will happen when the number gets shorter and even easier to remember?  (It’s a trick question: we know.) So what’s the problem here?

“No good deed goes unpunished,” and expanding access to the top of the referral funnel without bolstering the output at the bottom is only asking for needless suffering, including for therapists.

In making a robust 988 system, if we are not intentionally and purposefully growing a large cohort of private and agency based therapists who can accommodate the interest, then we’re doing our patients and public a grave (and dangerous) disservice.

People (namely politicians) often say “well, if everyone had access to an affordable therapist, this would all be better.” But that is extremely unfair to therapists. Whether you think of them as superheroes or not, therapists are still human. They need sleep. Nights off. Time away.

Burning out one therapist at the expense of a seemingly easy answer is no answer at all.

Crisis management in the mental health ecosystem requires a robust set of offerings such as 988, psychiatric ERs, and safety planning (done by all clinicians at all levels), so that in a moment of crisis, that individual person knows their plan.

The end goal is to provide structure so that all have access to quality mental healthcare. 988 is a piece of that puzzle, and it can hopefully provide the oomph needed to get a fully-fleshed out national mental health ecosystem to prevent crises. 

Simply Psych looks forward to being a solution-forward company to help therapists and mental health clinicians prepare for what’s coming: a generation of thoughtful people looking to improve their health by any means necessary (including a new, shortened contact number.) We welcome the challenge; learn more about us at: https://www.simplypsych.com 

 

Find us wherever you are.