Waitlists for Mental Health Services Are Long


by Contributor

Image credit:  SerenaWong, Pixabay, License

(Jan. 15, 2020) — According to a study by the National Council for Behavioral Health, 96 million Americans waited more than a week for mental health treatment. That might not sound like a long time, but if you’re experiencing depression or suicidal ideation, a week can feel like an excruciating amount of time to wait. It’s hard enough to seek mental health treatment with the stigma surrounding reaching out for help, but the wait times can cause additional discouragement for people. People with anxiety may struggle to make the call or reaching out to a therapist in general, so when you get the courage to make that call and have to wait months for a therapist after that, it can be incredibly painful.

How long do you have to wait to get mental health services?

Research shows that 3 out of 4 emergency room doctors see patients that need psychiatric beds, but yet, 83% of ER departments don’t have a psychiatrist on call. There is a shortage of mental health providers available to see people during a crisis, which is concerning. Not only that, the waiting rooms are filled to the brim with people who need help. If you’re in the market for a therapist, the amount of time you’ll wait to get your initial appointment with a provider will vary from person to person, but it can span from weeks to months. The waitlist time will depend on a variety of factors such as how in-demand the therapist you’re waiting to see is, what kind of therapy you’re looking for, and who your insurance is willing to cover.

Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a provider quickly

Waitlists for mental health care professionals because people who take insurance are sought after as therapists. Providers need to accept insurance because it widens the population and amount of clients you can see, but many therapists spend all day on the phone with insurance companies, making it difficult to treat as many clients as would be possible otherwise. Another issue is that if a provider works with a lot of insurance companies, openings fill up quickly with people who have that insurance. A lot of people get stuck on a waiting list until another spot opens up. Some therapists and psychiatrists don’t take insurance, which can be cost-prohibitive because many people can’t afford to pay for mental health services if their insurance doesn’t cover it.

Therapy is worth the wait

Even though waitlists can be long, therapy is worth it because your mental health is essential. If there’s a particular kind of therapy you need, for example, people going for trauma-informed therapy or EMDR, it’s worth waiting for it. It can be excruciating when you don’t have the services that you require at your time of need. One solution that you can try is online therapy, where there isn’t much of a wait. When it comes to online therapy, there are a ton of providers available. You don’t necessarily have to pick one that’s close to you in proximity, which widens the number of professionals that you can choose from for mental health treatment. One of the most popular companies that provide online therapy is BetterHelp. At BetterHelp, you can search for many licensed therapists who will be able to give you quality services, and you won’t have to wait. Your mental health is essential, and the right provider is out there for you. Online therapy can be an excellent option to get affordable mental health care.

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