What Can We Do? Psychiatrist Shortage Increasing...

‼️ 911 ‼️

The psychiatrist shortage is drastically increasing. THIS IS A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS!  The demand for treatment continues to grow, while the amount of available professionals continues to decrease. I am afraid. You should be afraid.  What can we do?

I think about this regularly, being not only a mental health professional but an empath; however, this week it really pulled at my heart strings.  I had a patient that was so symptomatic - in tears and could barely breathe. We utilized the ENTIRE session to go down the provider list on her insurance website and via google searches ... one by one ... one by one ... in attempts to schedule her an appointment with a psychiatrist!

“Ma’am, we don’t accept that insurance.” (Despite being on the provider list)

“He isn’t accepting new patients.”

“This call cannot be completed as dialed.”

“This number is no longer in service.”

“She will have to see one of our therapists first (discontinuing treatment with ME, her therapist that she is comfortable with and has already built a rapport with) and then won’t be able to get into the psychiatrist for approx. 4 months.”

What in the F@!$!!!

She was panicking. I was growing increasingly angry!

We even called her PCP for a referral. Nothing... they don’t have someone they refer to and don’t have a psychiatrist on staff.  BUT, the staff member DID agree that she should see a psychiatrist moving forward for psychotropic medications, as opposed to the ones their office is currently prescribing.

Plan C... What about the ER? Undesirable... patient can contract for safety... but what option are we left with?  We discussed how they could maybe get her some short-acting medication to temporarily calm the symptoms, while also scheduling her with an outpatient appt with a psychiatrist faster than she would be able to independently, or even with my assistance for that matter.  Contacted multiple ERs...

“We don’t have a psych unit.”

“This is how it works... she wouldn’t necessarily see a psychiatrist or get meds... they would just determine whether or not she needed to be sent to inpatient.”

“Sorry, there is nothing that we can do.”

Again, What in the F@!$!!!

This. Is. A. Crisis. A CRISIS!  I am beyond frustrated and terrified for what the future looks like pertaining to the field of mental health.

What can we do!?

Some of my thoughts - whether feasible or not:

-Psychiatrists need to speak on their craft.  Talk to children, inspire them. Go to college campuses. Work with med students to get them interested in this field of medicine.  Anything.

-Loan forgiveness/incentives:  any college debt/student loan is daunting... let alone med school ... help people afford the schooling so that they can enter this field!

-Fast track programs:  mental health professionals are (or should be) up to speed on psychotropics, forms of treatment, symptoms and diagnostic criteria for disorders, etc. [[not all, depending on their position, but hopefully the majority]].  Why not provide a “fast track” program for those that might be interested in becoming a psychiatrist?  As opposed to someone like myself that thinks ‘I already have 3 degrees... student debt... AND I am now going to essentially start at square one to knock out pre-med classes, do the whole med school route, residency...’ I know there are essentials that need to be met to obtain an MD, but again, maybe just finding a way to offer different formatting for those that already have a strong knowledge base in the field and can’t physically/financially restart their entire educational background.

I am not saying these are the answers. These are just a few thoughts that have popped into my head. What I am saying, though, is that we NEED answers!

Please share this - Please leave me your suggestions - Please speak about this, often, to anyone you can!

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