A national study of U.S. psychologists finds that a mental health crisis endures despite the decline of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey, many psychologists in the United States are unable to accept new patients due to rising demand for assistance with depression, anxiety, and substance use difficulties.
“The national mental health crisis persists,” stated Arthur Evans Jr., chief executive officer of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychological science demonstrates that social support is essential for establishing resilience; therefore, if you are experiencing problems receiving care in a timely manner, seek out to others for support and create coping mechanisms.
As per US News, in late September and early October, about 2,300 licensed psychologists nationally replied to the APA’s third annual practitioner survey. Seventy-two percent of respondents reported that their waiting lists are longer than they were before the outbreak. On average, 15 new patients every week contact psychologists seeking therapy.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 79% of physicians indicated they had encountered more patients with anxiety problems. Sixty-six percent report an increase in demand for depression treatment, 47 percent for substance abuse treatment, and 64 percent for trauma. Approximately two-thirds of psychologists reported that this year, patients’ symptoms are more severe.
Young people, particularly those aged 13 to 17, represented the highest rise in care-seeking. Many psychologists also believed that children under 13 and those between the ages of 18 and 25 need extra attention. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over half of psychologists have observed an increase in the number of healthcare professionals seeking therapy.
“Timely access to psychological therapy is essential for addressing the needs of persons identified with behavioral health issues,” Evans stated in a press release for an organization. “However, we must address this issue with a variety of options, not only individual therapy.” He noted the need to support and grow the workforce of psychologists, to integrate behavioral health into primary care, and to leverage technology and innovation to reach more patients.
Up from 4% in 2021, over 11% of psychologists now visit all patients in person. Over half (58%) of physicians see some patients remotely and others in person. 31% of physicians see all patients via telehealth.
The APA observed that telehealth could increase access to care for patients from underserved communities, such as rural and minority populations. The APA continues to promote for broader insurance coverage of telehealth.
With the rising patient demand, approximately 45 percent of psychologists report feeling exhausted. 60% of respondents indicated that they have sought out peer consultation or support to manage the issue. 77% of respondents claimed they were able to practice self-care, while 63% said they were able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
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