Demand for mental health services soars amid pandemic and holiday stress

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DENVER (KDVR) — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to push more people to seek help for their mental health, according to state and national data.

In October, the Colorado Crisis Services line reached an all-time high of 24,843 contacts. A recent study from the American Psychological Survey found that roughly three in 10 psychologists are seeing more patients overall since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s a perfect storm. There are so many stressors that have been happening in the world in general,” said Dr. Liz Chamberlain, a licensed Psychologist at Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

Chamberlain says the wait time for her patients has slowly grown since the start of the pandemic, going from an average of six weeks to three months for a new patient to get in. She says the demand could increase even more as we get deeper into the holiday season.

“I’ve been doing this for about 20 years and usually in November there’s a pretty big uptick. Sometimes people have seasonal affective disorder, sometimes it’s just the stress of the time of year,” said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain says it’s a positive sign that more people are seeking help for their mental health but waiting months to speak with a professional can be discouraging, especially for those who may be in crisis.

There are options to get help sooner. Chamberlain recommends looking for licensed professionals outside of your city or immediate area.

LINK: Licensed professionals in Colorado

“Because of telehealth, there are actually a lot more therapists available to people because you don’t have to go in your neighborhood or your city. You can see anyone in the state of Colorado who is a licensed professional,” said Chamberlain.

She advises people who have a therapist in mind to get on the waitlist and check frequently to see if there have been any cancellations. 

Chamberlain says a person does not have to be in crisis to utilize Colorado Crisis Services.

“We all need support sometimes. We all just need someone who can listen and talk to us in a way that’s different than how our friend might talk to us,” said Chamberlain.

You can also reach Colorado Crisis Services at any time by calling: 1-844-493-TALK (8255)

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