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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 31,928
Location: Long Island, New York

28 Dec 2022, 4:19 am

Therapist shortage has parents struggling to get teens help as depression, suicides rise
Behind a paywall

As depression, anxiety and suicide rates rise among teenagers on Long Island and throughout the nation, a shortage in psychologists and therapists has led to difficulty securing appointments for treatment.

Waiting lists can be monthslong, if they're available at all. Some mental health professionals are working extra to try to meet demand, while some parents are taking their kids to appointments during school hours — the only time slots available.

And even if parents can find a therapist, their insurance might not cover it, or the therapist doesn’t accept insurance, period — meaning thousands of dollars in bills, experts said.

“There are so many parents that are looking for therapists for their kids right now, and they’re having so much trouble finding somebody that’s available,” said Melissa Rosenblatt, a child psychologist in Syosset.

Experts said factors causing the shortage include the long-running problem of a lack of therapists specializing in teens and children, increased stress among children stemming partly from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the willingness of more parents in general to seek help for their kids when there might have been a taboo around the topic in the past.

Michael Grady, a Suffolk County resident, said he spent six months searching for a therapist after his teenage daughter was discharged from a hospital program following a suicide attempt.

“I called dozens of counselors, social workers, and basically I got the same answer: 'We don’t take kids,' or most of them are just saying, ‘Sorry, my schedule is completely full,' " Grady said.

“I basically went through every counselor within a 15-mile radius that my insurance covered and I couldn’t find anybody,” he added. “I basically didn’t know what to do.”

Rosenblatt said she faces a staggering influx of parents like Grady who are seeking help. She has a waiting list that she called unprecedented in her eight years working as a child therapist on Long Island.

She gets 15 to 20 calls a week from parents looking for help for their children — and has to turn away the overwhelming majority because she is fully booked.

According to the American Psychological Association, only 4,000 of more than 100,000 clinical psychologists in the United States specialize in children or adolescents.

That also translates into a shortage of psychologists in schools. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students, but estimates the current ratio nationwide is about one per 1,200 students.

The number of teenage suicides the nonprofit Family Service League responded to in Suffolk County tripled between 2020 and 2021, going from four to 12, Kathy Rosenthal, the group’s senior vice president, told Newsday earlier this year.

Nationwide, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death after unintentional injury among people from the ages of 10 to 34, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Donna Thiele, a child psychologist in Bohemia, said depression, anxiety and other mental health issues were on the rise before the pandemic, fueled by factors such as heavy social media use and feelings of isolation.

But “the pandemic kind of gave it a turbo boost,” she said. “There are just more kids that are in need right now. There was kind of a shortage building up before the pandemic, and that really kind of exacerbated it.”

Her waiting list is three months — an unacceptable amount of time when a child is in crisis, she said.

Some psychologists and therapists said they are trying to fill the gap. Rosenblatt used to work until 7 p.m. on weekdays but now goes until 8 or 8:30. She also expanded her Saturday schedule from two or three hours to six to take in more patients.

Even if parents find a therapist who is available, paying for it can be another nightmare.

Many therapists — also including licensed clinical social workers — do not use insurance companies because they said it is a time-consuming ordeal that cuts severely into their core mission of treating patients. 

“I want to be devoting my time to therapy, not being on the phone with all these insurance companies for hours and hours,” Rosenblatt said.

She once relocated her office and it took the insurance company six months to get the proper address into the system — delaying payments, she said.

“It makes it so difficult because you spend hours and hours on the phone with them and then you still don’t get paid,” she said. “We all want to make therapy services accessible to everybody. The insurance companies have to be willing to work with us, and a lot of times they’re not. It’s very frustrating.”

Typical out-of-pocket rates on Long Island range from $150 to $300 for a 45-minute session, Thiele said. For weekly sessions, that can add up quickly.

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Mountain Goat

Joined: 13 May 2019
Gender: Male
Posts: 13,279

28 Dec 2022, 5:11 am

Maybe part of the problem is psycologists and therapists are overworked so they feel to tired for love making, so new psycologists and new therapists are no longer made We have to be careful incase they go extinct!