The Secondary Pandemic

We are currently spending a lot of time and energy worrying about our physical health. The world around us is changing. If anyone had suggested a year ago that we would currently be wearing masks, measure how far away we are standing from those around us, and forgoing hugs from those we love, most of us would have dismissed it as science fiction. Beyond the highly important concerns of physical health, however, there is growing concern about mental health.

            Due to the social isolation, financial risk, and the added stress that comes when a house goes from being just a home to an office and school as well, more people than every are struggling with mental health issues. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, in April of this year three times as many American adults were reporting psychological distress when compared to the data from 2018.

            These problems are only made worse by the fact that many people who are in need of mental health services either cannot or do not seek out such services. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, less than half of Americans experiencing a mental health condition received the care that they needed. This is due to several factors:

  • Lack of mental health practitioners. According to one study for every 100,000 people in the United States there are only 34 psychologists and 13 psychiatrists.
  • Difficulty finding providers. Many insurance companies do not provide an easy to access list of in network providers for mental health. The ones that do often are not up to date and list providers who no longer take the insurance or are no longer practicing.
  • Lack of incentive for mental health practitioners to take insurance. Many insurance companies give significantly smaller reimbursements to mental health practitioners as opposed to primary care physicians. This means it is often easier for mental health practitioners to simply not take insurance.

         Both during this pandemic and beyond, we as a society need to strive to create a system that prioritizes people’s mental health in the same way it does their physical health. It is important for those in need of help to be willing and able to access it. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health services and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors please call the office at 251-222-8880.

For more information on this topic see the following article.

This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett.

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