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Mental Health

Mental Health Crisis Emphasises Access Issues: Study

Alongside mental health concerns, psychologists reported treating patients with physical conditions like chronic pain, obesity, cancer and high blood pressure

Mental Health Crisis Emphasises Access Issues: Study
More than 36per cent of psychologists reported experiencing burnout and 1 in 5 psychologists said that they were planning to reduce their practice hours in the next 12 months

Massachusetts: According to the American Psychological Association’s 2023 Practitioner Pulse Survey, the ongoing mental health crisis is posing substantial obstacles for many psychologists as they deal with increased demand from patients coming with increasingly severe symptoms year after year. The survey, which was completed by 561 licenced practising psychologists between August 30 and September 29, 2023, discovered that not only did more than half of psychologists (52 per cent) report an increase in the severity of symptoms among their patients, but 41 per cent reported an increase in the number of sessions spent treating each patient, which may limit their capacity to accept new patients.

Similarly, more than half (56 per cent) said that they had no openings for new patients. And more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of psychologists who maintained a waitlist said that the average wait was up to three months for a first appointment, while 31 per cent said average wait times were longer than three months. Psychologists reported increasing demand for treatment of certain mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders (68 per cent) and trauma- and stressor-related disorders (50 per cent), among those who treat those disorders. APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, said,

As the mental health crisis continues, psychologists are under pressure. These findings underscore the sustained demand for care, led by increased severity of symptoms and extended treatment courses, compounded by increases year after year. This paints a clear picture of psychologists operating at the brink of their capacity. To better meet demand, it is essential that we develop comprehensive public health strategies that reach people throughout their lifespan and robustly address behavioural health alongside physical health.

Also Read: Poor Eating Choices Are Linked To Poor Mental Health, Risk Of Diabetes: Study

The survey found that the psychologist workforce is already adapting to meet the changing needs of the population — for example, as part of integrated care teams or in medical settings. More than 4 in 5 psychologists (86 per cent) said they have worked alongside other health care providers, with 59 pre cent saying they do so frequently or very frequently. Collaborating providers included psychiatrists (76 per cent of psychologists said they worked with them, with 38per cent doing so frequently); other physicians (45 per cent, with 17 per cent doing so frequently); occupational therapists (30 per cent, with 6 per cent doing so frequently); physician assistants (41 per cent, with 11per cent doing so frequently); community health workers (30 per cent, with 4 per cent doing so frequently); and speech language pathologists (28per cent, with 5per cent frequent collaborators). Alongside mental health concerns, psychologists reported treating patients with physical conditions, including 50per cent treating patients with chronic pain, 42per cent treating obesity or weight conditions, 27per cent some symptoms of cancer, and 25per cent high blood pressure. APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. further said,

Integrated care, where psychologists work on health care teams with other providers, is one way that we can expand access to care, prioritise preventive care and find ways to better meet the biological, psychological and social needs of the patients. We must also support and expand the mental health workforce, foster innovation and technology, and support psychologists in extending their reach in the communities in which they live and work.

Psychologists have shown themselves to be adaptable, changing their work habits during the pandemic to include fully remote or hybrid practices. Only 21 per cent are now offering fully remote practices (down from a peak of 64 per cent in 2020), according to the poll, yet more than two-thirds (67per cent) are now working in hybrid practices seeing some patients in person and others remotely.

More than one-third (36per cent) of psychologists reported experiencing burnout and 1 in 5 psychologists (21per cent) said that they were planning to reduce their practice hours in the next 12 months. Yet nearly three-quarters (73per cent) said that they were able to practice self-care and nearly two-thirds (63per cent) said that they were able to maintain a positive work-life balance.

Also Read: Severe Mental Illness Increased Death Risk After Covid Infection: Study

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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