Psychologists stunned by high necessity for mental healthcare

November 18, 2022 : Though the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced, a mental health crisis continues, a nationwide survey of U.S. psychologists shows.

And increasing demand for help with depression, anxiety, and drugs use issues means many psychologists throughout the United States are incapable to take on new patients, as per the American Psychological Association’s 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey

“This nationwide mental health crisis continues,” stated Arthur Evans Jr., CEO of the APA. “If you are struggling, know that you are not sole. Psychological science indicates that social support is key to developing strength, so if you are having problem accessing care in a timely way, reach out to others to find aid and identify ways to manage.”

About 2,300 licensed psychologists nationwide answered to the APA’s third annual practitioner survey in September and earlier October.

Nearly 60% said they no longer can take on new patients, and 72% stated they have longer waitlists than before the pandemic. On moderate, psychologists said 15 people a week contact them seeking new supervision.

In all, 79% stated they had seen more patients with anxiety conditions since the pandemic began. About 66% have seen increased need for depression treatment, 47% for substance use therapy, and 64% for trauma. About two-thirds of psychologists expressed patients’ symptoms are more severe this year. Young people, mostly 13- to 17-year-olds, represented the most important increases in seeking care. Many psychologists also saw a requirement for more care in kids under 13 and among 18- to 25-year-olds.

Almost half of the psychologists reported a rising number of healthcare employees seeking treatment since the start of the pandemic.

“Maintaining timely access to psychological services is critical for managing the needs of those diagnosed with behavioral health issues,” Evans stated in an association news release. “But we need to venture this problem with a variety of solutions beyond personal therapy.”

He noted the need to support and expand the psychologist workforce, incorporate behavioral health into primary care, and utilize technology and innovation to contact more patients.

Approximately 11% of psychologists now see all patients individually, up from 4% in 2021. More than half (58%) visit some patients remotely and some in person. About 31% see all patients through telehealth.

The APA reported that telehealth could expand access to care for patients from underserved neighborhoods, including those in rural locations and people of color. The APA continues to advocate for expanded scope of telehealth by insurance firms.

With the increased patient demand, about 45% of psychologists expressed they feel burned out. But 60% expressed they had sought peer consultation or aid to manage it. About 77% said they were able to practice self-care, and 63% voiced they have been able to maintain a positive work-life equilibrium.