According to a recent American Psychological Association study, the demand for mental health care has increased, despite the fact that many psychologists say they can no longer accept new patients.
Treatment for illnesses related to trauma and stresses, as well as drug use disorders, are in more demand than therapies for anxiety and depression, which have been popular for three years, according to the 2022 Covid-19 Practitioner Impact Survey. Almost half (46%) of practitioners said they couldn’t keep up with the demand for care, and almost three-quarters (72%) have longer waitlists than before the epidemic. Six out of ten practitioners said they no longer have room for new patients.
On average, psychologists reported contacting more than 15 potential new patients every week.
According to the report, there have been more patients with anxiety disorders and 66% more persons seeking therapy for depression since the outbreak began. Nearly half (47%) reported an increase in demand for drug misuse treatment (up from 43% the previous year), and 64% reported an increase in demand for trauma therapy (up from 62 per cent in 2021). Furthermore, two-thirds of psychologists believe that the intensity of patients’ symptoms would deteriorate by 2022.
“The national mental health crisis persists,” APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, remarked. “Know that you are not alone if you are struggling. According to psychological science, social support is essential for establishing resilience, therefore if you are experiencing problems receiving care in a timely manner, reach out to others for support and to explore methods to manage.” The poll also found an increase in the need for mental health treatment, especially among young people and healthcare professionals. Adolescents aged 13 to 17 had the greatest rise in patients, with 46% of psychologists reporting increases in the preceding 12 months.
During the same time period, psychologists also observed considerable increases in patients aged 18 to 25 (40%) and children under 13 (38%). According to nearly half (46%) of psychologists, more healthcare professionals have sought therapy since the outbreak began.
“Having timely access to psychological services is critical for addressing the needs of those diagnosed with behavioural health challenges,” said Evans. “But we need to tackle this problem with a variety of solutions, beyond individual therapy. We need to support and expand the workforce, promote integrated behavioural health into primary care, improve mental health literacy, and use technology and innovation to expand the reach and improve efficiency. But critically, we must expand our paradigm for addressing behavioural health – especially if we are to successfully address health disparities – by using more public health strategies to reach people earlier and in the places where they live, work, play and worship,” he said.
As the pandemic recedes and in-person encounters become more common, the percentage of psychologists who visit all patients in person has climbed from 4% in 2021 to 11%.
Telemedicine, on the other hand, is still a feasible choice. According to the poll, more over half of psychologists (58%) presently see some patients remotely and some in person, and 31% report seeing all patients through telehealth (down from 47% in 2021).
Patients from underserved groups, such as those living in rural regions and communities of colour, as well as those who would not otherwise be able to receive treatment, may benefit from telehealth services by increasing access to care. The APA continues to advocate for expanded insurance company telehealth coverage, including audio-only coverage, and reimbursement at the same rate as in-person therapy. More than four in ten (45%) psychologists reported feeling burned out due to the constant demand for mental health treatment. The majority of psychologists reported being able to exercise self-care (77%), maintain a favourable work-life balance (63%), and seek peer guidance or aid to combat burnout.