Waiting. Nobody likes to wait.
And when it comes to mental health, nobody should really have to wait.
Even before the pandemic hit – and brought along with it a whole new set of anxieties – it was difficult to find quality counseling in the U.S. It has been even trickier to find specialized care for children and for those reliant upon insurance. And harder still for those that prefer a counselor of Black or Latino descent or one that specializes in identity affirmation.
In an American Psychological Association survey from the fall of 2021, members routinely stated they found a surge in demand – particularly for anxiety, depression, and trauma – yet 65% of members stated they had no capacity for additional patients.
Why is it so difficult?
Classic supply and demand.
Between the years of 2015 and 2020, the incidence of depression for Americans hovered around 9% for those 12 and older. These days, that figure stands at 17% with mood disorders increasing fastest among teens and young adults.
Are we depressed because of what is happening around us? Because we’re more likely to be diagnosed? Because the stigma of asking for help is lessening?
Renee Goodwin, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, believes the increase is real and not a reflection of changing attitudes.
It’s interesting to note that – for adults - the highest rates can be found among whites, women, single adults, and the lowest income strata.
While we wait
Not being able to find a good therapist is stressful in and of itself! But what can we do in the meanwhile?
Self-care, exercise, yoga, journaling, reading, online apps, and support groups can all play a role in bridging the gap between now and your first appointment with a qualified available therapist.
The good news
Did you know that any therapist in your state can legally assist you? And, since not all therapists choose to live in the population centers, you now have access to all of them through teletherapy.
So, go ahead. Broaden that search. You’re not restricted to the distance of a reasonable drive. Find a therapist that has the background and specialty you feel most comfortable and start a conversation.
Dr. Wayne Bullock is a Washington D.C. area psychologist specializing in the needs of gay men, the LGBTQ community, and those dealing with anxiety, depression, and trauma.