Aid for mental health needs is becoming increasingly challenging to find. Across the board, mental health staffing is at an all-time low, leaving behavioral units, psychiatric care, and mental health providers trying to figure out how to cover the rising need for care. While professionals are facing a severe shortage, the need for care in this capacity is at an all-time high, leaving us facing a crisis like never before.
It seems like when a child or an adult needs mental health care, such as seeing a psychiatrist, they end up on a waiting list and may be waiting for weeks to be seen. When mental health is on the line with struggles like depression or anxiety, waiting to be seen could be detrimental. Parents are running into providers not taking new patients, a lack of providers altogether, or extended waiting times to get in.
Mental Health Crisis Concerns
When you’re the parent or the patient seeking options for care, it’s scary to think that you might not be able to find the help that you need. Waiting simply isn’t a viable option in these scenarios. You don’t want to see the person who needs care continue to spiral because they can’t get the help that they need.
The current rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among teens display a clear crisis when it comes to mental health. And without being able to provide or find treatment, the crisis escalates considerably.
Why a Shortage of Providers?
While there have always been plenty of mental health providers in the industry, there are two primary things lending to the current shortage. The first is that many of the trained professionals are aging out and retiring, and there aren’t enough new faces to replace them. The second is that more mental health care is needed now than ever before.
Between these two factors, there simply isn’t enough care available to go around. Even when a teen is taken to the ER for mental health, they may not be able to be immediately admitted into a behavioral health or psychiatric facility due to lack of availability. The result is playing a waiting game, and all too often time runs out.
This shortage isn’t new, but in recent years it has certainly been amplified by the increase in need for care and the decrease of available treatment options or providers.
Understanding Alternatives to Psychiatric Care
There are some alternatives to psychiatric care for immediate treatment, particularly if you are in a risky scenario and simply cannot wait. You can start with your primary care provider to at least get your child in front of someone. Another option is to contact your insurance company and determine if they can provide you with any resources or even a list of providers.
While mental health staffing is challenging to fill the gap with, providers and behavioral health facilities can consider working with external solutions that can assist with providing the necessary care. These external parties often have evaluation teams, telepsychiatry solutions, mental health professionals, and additional services that may be useful in facilities that are struggling to keep up with demand.