Opinion | ‘A Sad State of Affairs’ for Mental Health in America – The New York Times

Opinion | ‘A Sad State of Affairs’ for Mental Health in America – The New York Times

To the Editor:

“We Surveyed 1,320 Therapists Across the Nation. They’re Worried About Mental Health in the U.S.” (news article, Jan. 3):

Psychiatrists were not included in this Times survey, sent by Psychology Today to its professional members, but there were references to my field that illustrate a sad state of affairs.

A quarter of those polled said suicidal thoughts were among the leading reasons patients sought help. Sixty percent said more patients wanted medication. One clinical social worker noted that a person who was suicidal and depressed had to wait three months to see a psychiatrist for medication. That waiting time was not just for psychiatrists: Nearly a third of the therapists surveyed said it could take at least three months to get an appointment with them, if at all.

If a person is severely depressed and suicidal, a professional should evaluate them immediately. I know from being a hospital psychiatrist throughout my career that this evaluation can be accomplished in an emergency room.

The problem is that the necessary, close follow-up care is not accessible to most who cannot pay out of pocket. It is often difficult to find those who will accept fees paid by insurance. As a society, we have to examine our priorities for how money is allocated, and whether mental health is worth the financial investment.

Jeffrey B. Freedman
New York

To the Editor:

It’s about time this survey was conducted. I’ve been hitting my head against the wall in frustration since Covid began, trying to get national coverage of our mental health crisis.

Now, let’s take needed actions or we will face worsening incidences of PTSD. As the article stated, medical workers are already suffering. We will also see increases in mass shootings, uncontrolled anger against airline stewards, domestic abuse, substance abuse and suicides.

Here are some things we can do:

Broadcast and print media: Offer continual mental health reports. Post the 800 number for crisis and suicide hotlines everywhere, along with symptoms of acute stress. Warn about deadly pills through social media.

Schools: Talk to students about stress, depression and suicidal ideation. Add needed counselors.

Community, state and federal governments: Determine needs of vulnerable populations and how to respond immediately. Find additional therapists and psychiatric ward availability. Demand insurance parity.

Most important: End the stigma. Finally put mental and physical health on equal footing.

Sharon L. Cohen
Newtown, Conn.
The writer is the co-author of “Disaster Mental Health Community Planning.”

To the Editor:

Surviving the pandemic has proved to be a lot easier …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/09/opinion/letters/mental-health-covid.html

Mental health