Shortages are currently in no short supply. In fact, the only consistent thing in the world right now are shortages: barriers to receiving a desired good, service, or even care. COVID, war in Ukraine, supply chain, consumer demand, the list goes on; we’re feeling shortages in all sectors, all domains.
Car prices are through the roof thanks to the computer chip shortage. The Great Resignation is leaving companies and employers scrambling to find people to fill the void. And every week it seems like different food items are no longer available at the grocery store due to supply constraints. Yet there is a bigger catastrophic shortage looming, which was apparent long before continuous waves of crises hit us.
Mental healthcare professionals have been in very limited supply for years, and the mental health-altering effects of the pandemic (and life in a world where wars are springing up) only exacerbate the shortage. It is the worst it’s ever been.
While society is being more open to addressing and seeking out mental healthcare solutions, the framework to support this increase in care-seekers is severely lacking. The average time to find a therapist (meaning to actually have an appointment with a trained professional) was already 25 days in 2014. And according to a survey by the New York Times last year, 75 percent of therapists said that wait times have only dramatically increased during the pandemic. This is horrific.
There are many, many facets causing this scary statistic. Stigmatization stunts availability and access to care. Mental healthcare has often been regarded as irrelevant or not worth investing or promoting so a bottleneck was bound to happen once mental health was put in the spotlight. We are now in a mental health service desert: not enough professionals compounded by increased awareness and increased demand for mental health care.
Further, over one third of the population lives in what is defined as a mental healthcare shortage area (that’s about 122 million Americans) where there is limited or no access to care. Underserved communities are even more impacted, leading to greater disparities in levels of care and healthcare equity across the nation. Y’all, we’re in trouble.
While these statistics seem overwhelming, the obvious solution involves increasing the number of trained physicians, as well as incentivizing them to work with underserved areas. A quick fix this is not, as it takes years of school and training to be certified. Getting the word out of the necessity of more mental healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, support staff, therapists, counselors, etc.) is a start. Awareness sparks action.
A more urgent solution involves connecting those who need care with the right trained professional. With the options and scenarios available, it is daunting to discover who is best suited to provide the best care given the individual’s context. Gide is a tool that is developed to help connect the right healthcare professionals to the right care seekers. After all, there is no wrong door to the right therapy. A convenient, personal connection is all that is needed. Check out https://gide.me to learn more about how they are working to connect therapists in an intentional way.
The shortage of mental healthcare professionals does not need to deter people from seeking out care. By highlighting a therapist or psychiatrist, you could literally be helping someone take the step to seek out care for themselves. One of the 640 child psychiatrists in Texas (hold up, there’s over 7 million kids in Texas, and only 640 child psychiatrists…!?!?) created a network of support, insight, perspective, and shared-experiences. www.helloMHint.com is a curated social community where general members and mental health professionals interact to share similar lived experiences. MHint actively combats mis/disinformation, serving as an accessible reservoir of sanity for each of us surviving information overload.
Mental health care is complex. At Simply Psych, we are devoted to providing the practice management needs of practice owners so they can focus on what matters most: treating patients. We remove practice management hurdles, empowering therapists to reclaim their autonomy and decrease burnout. We would love to hear how we can help you! Reach out to us at email@example.com to get started today.
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