The behavioral health professionals demand is booming. Lockdowns, restrictions, out of lockdowns, back into lockdowns. Old variants, new variants, vaccines rollouts, vaccines shortages. No wonder America is in need of therapy.
But the need for psychiatry has not only increased, it has changed. We’re no longer sitting in an office with a waiting room full of patients. We’re no longer welcoming one after another into our offices. Now we often meet via Zoom or over the phone without face-to-face contact. The in-person contact between behavioral health professionals and patients introduces new challenges. These challenges can make recovery harder. So along with the change in behavioral health, the need for more of it is overwhelming. So what can we do?
Since early 2020, everyone has been affected by Covid in some way. For some it’s been a loss of a job, family member, having to move or just a loss of connection with the outside world.
Dr. Mary Alvord, a psychologist and director of Alvord, Baker & Associates in Rockville, Maryland, said when the pandemic first began “I think everybody was just in a state of disbelief that this was coming on so quickly and dramatically. That first rush was anxiety in terms of daily uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen [regarding] the pandemic. And I think that it turned into a lot of sadness.”
But now that anxiety turned to sadness has lasted for over a year. This creates a dangerous dynamic. It’s hard enough for people to admit that they need help with their mental health. It’s even more distressing if resources fall short when they seek help. The need for behavioral health professionals is running low all across America and so finding the right place to look is crucial.
There is a bright side to the changes in telehealth and new ways of providing mental health resources. Dr. Mary Alvord says “I think that the convenience that consumers have come to expect will encourage them to stay in treatment as opposed to having to go back in person. So that’s going to be a big component,” Wright said. “I also think that we are going to see long-term mental health consequences if individuals aren’t able to address their stress levels that they’re experiencing right now.”
So even though the demand for in-person behavioral health professionals are high, the adjustments to telehealth and online resources may be here to stay. This opens up resources to people that were previously more difficult to reach.