High demand for mental health support leads to long wait times in Colorado

Problem Solvers
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DENVER (KDVR) — The demand for mental health support has grown so much during the pandemic, doctors in Colorado tell the Problem Solvers new patients seeking assistance might find themselves placed on a waiting list up to two months long.

“The more specific the need, or the more specific the request, the harder it is [going to be] to find a provider to meet that need. If it was a general referral coming in for general counseling or therapy we’re looking at anywhere from 4-8 weeks,” said Dr. Justin Ross.

Dr. Ross is a clinical psychologist and the director of employee well-being at UCHealth.

According to Dr. Ross, the increased demand for mental health support has been a big challenge for healthcare providers.

“In my opinion, we were already at capacity prior to the pandemic,” Dr. Ross said.

A recent survey from the American Psychological Association of nearly 1,800 psychologists found 74% of those polled are seeing more patients with anxiety disorders compared to the year prior.

The same survey reveled 60% of psychologists are seeing more patients with depressive disorders.

“And yet right now there’s a shortage of mental health providers that can meet that demand,” Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross said anyone needing mental health assistance right now shouldn’t be discouraged.

According to Dr. Ross, providers know there’s a shortage of help out there and they’re working hard to fill the demand.

Dr. Ross suggests the following for anyone seeking mental health support:

“I would think about calling your insurance companies, seeing if that’s a viable option – so that maybe you’re seeing a provider who’s in another part of the country – who maybe doesn’t have as hard of a waitlist time but that can get you in quicker,” Dr. Ross said.

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