Mental Healthcare Demand Pressures Psychologists

Following a pandemic-driven surge in demand for mental healthcare, a new American Psychological Association survey is indicating an even greater demand increase in 2021, with psychologists reporting heavier workloads, longer waitlists, and low capacity for new patients.

The APA surveyed 1,141 doctoral-level active psychologists in the US between August 30 and September 17, providing insights into the evolving mental health landscape in 2021.

Psychologist capacity highlights:

  • 43% reported an increase in overall number of patients (up from 29% last year)
  • 65% reported no capacity for new patients due to current caseload
  • 46% reported feeling burned out (up from 41% last year)

Psychologist telehealth adoption:

  • 96% reported treating patients remotely (slight decrease from 97% last year)
  • 50% reported hybrid in-person / remote treatment (up from 33% hybrid last year)
  • 46% reported seeing all patients remotely (down 64% all remote last year)

Changes in treatment areas:

  • 82% reported an increase in demand for anxiety disorder (up from 72% last year)
  • 70% reported an increase in demand for depression(up from 58% last year)
  • 2021 demand increases for: trauma (58%), substances (27%), sleep (38%)

The Takeaway

More psychologists reported increased demand across all treatment areas than before the pandemic, a trend that has accelerated since last year. While nearly all psychologists are providing remote services to meet rising patient volumes, a growing number of them are still reporting no capacity for new appointments, highlighting a continued need for digital health solutions that address the supply and demand imbalance for the specialty.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team