Access gaps in U.S. mental health treatment have been laid bare in recent years, and although perhaps brought to the fore by a lengthy pandemic (which saw a 30% jump in self-reported chronic mental struggles), these issues have long been gestating in a society in which people often look down on the mental health woes of themselves as well as others. And the nation’s healthcare system, simply put, cannot bear the burden of solving this problem.
Demand so significantly outweighs supply, with 65% of psychologists reporting no wiggle room for new patients according to the American Psychological Association, that a defeatist mentality has cast a pall over the industry. A Congress-backed report found that over half of Americans in need of mental healthcare will never find proper treatment. It’s even more of a lost cause for minorities, who usually must search far and wide for a therapist if they want to find one of the same race.
Although parity laws at state and federal levels have been put in place over the years forcing insurers to reimburse for mental care at the same rate as other health services, coverage is constantly denied. One malignant tactic employed by insurers is sending patients into “ghost networks,” which consist of endless lists of providers that aren’t accepting new patients or aren’t even in the proper coverage network. The U.S. mental care gap has led to a drastic uptick in homelessness as well as a rise in the rate of contact with the criminal justice system.