DENVER (KDVR) — Mental health resources remain in high demand even as the country moves away from the COVID-19 pandemic and into an endemic.
Dr. Liz Chamberlain, a licensed psychologist with CU Anschutz Health and Wellness, is one of many forced to put patients on a waitlist.
“The numbers are so telling that people continue to need mental health help and continue to seek it. There’s so much loss that people have had of just normal events, and life is hard to navigate anyway,” said Chamberlain.
Finding an open appointment can take time. Chamberlain says people may need to be persistent right now.
“When you’re not feeling well, persistence is tough. Enlist the help of a family member or friend to make some calls for you if that’s something you need help with,” Chamberlain said.
How to find an open appointment
Calling one or two mental health providers might not be enough to book an appointment. Chamberlain says people need to be persistent right now.
“Enlist the help of a family member or friend to make calls for you if that’s something you need help with,” said Chamberlain.
Join cancellation lists
If a provider you’re interested in is booked, join both the waitlist and cancellation list. Chamberlain says asking to be on the cancellation list could get you in sooner than just joining the waitlist.
Find virtual appointments
Virtual appointments have remained common post-pandemic. Chamberlain says they offer greater flexibility for patients to look outside their immediate area. Providers have also been able to take on more patients through virtual appointments.
Ask your primary care doctor
Chamberlain says more primary care offices now include behavioral health providers on site. Asking your doctor for help could lead to immediate care, at least for a short appointment.
What if I can’t afford care?
Finding mental health providers that accept health insurance is difficult. Chamberlain says those who do often have longer waitlists, but there are affordable and even free options.
Colorado Crisis Services
Colorado Crisis Services provides immediate, free care through a phone call or text. Chamberlain says you do not need to be in crisis to use their services. Anyone looking for mental health help can reach out for assistance.
Sliding scale providers
A Google search for “sliding scale therapy providers” can turn up dozens of results for offices offering services for a more affordable price.
Consider seeing a student
Chamberlain says doctoral students can be a more affordable option when seeking mental health help.
“These people are really well-trained. You’re getting the care of a trainee plus somebody supervising their work. That’s a good option if you don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, or if you just can’t afford an exorbitant rate that a lot of people charge,” Chamberlain said.
Check with your employer
Some employers may offer an Employee Assistance Program. An EAP offers short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services.