Demand for Mental Health Care Outpacing Capacity

Psychologists report increases in those seeking care for anxiety, depression, substance use and no capacity for treating new patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Demand for mental health treatment may be outpacing capacity to provide care, according to survey results released by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The 2022 APA COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey included responses from 2,295 doctoral-level, active licensed psychologists in the United States from Sept. 20 to Oct. 7, 2022.

Nearly eight in 10 psychologists (79 percent) reported increases in the number of patients with anxiety disorders since the beginning of the pandemic, and two-thirds saw an increase in demand for treatment for depression. Almost half (47 percent) said they had seen an increase in demand for substance use treatment (up from 43 percent in 2021), and almost two-thirds (64 percent) saw an increase in demand for trauma treatment. In 2022, two-thirds of psychologists reported seeing an increase in the severity of symptoms among patients. Sixty percent of respondents said they no longer have openings for new patients, nearly half (46 percent) reported being unable to meet the demand for treatment, and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they have longer waitlists than before the pandemic.

“Having timely access to psychological services is critical for addressing the needs of those diagnosed with behavioral health challenges,” APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., said in a statement. “We need to support and expand the workforce, promote integrated behavioral health into primary care, improve mental health literacy, use technology and innovation to expand reach and improve efficiency. But critically, we must expand our paradigm for addressing behavioral 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.”

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