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Mental health care providers see increased demand, struggle to keep up

Mental health care shortage
Posted at 8:52 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 23:40:20-04

WACO, Texas — The demand for mental health services in Texas is high, and has gotten even higher since the pandemic began.

A recent report from USA Facts shows more than half of Texans live in an area with a mental health care shortage. Waco psychologist, Dr. Emma Church, has a waitlist for people seeking help. She isn’t the only one.

"We're just not able to meet the needs that are out there," Church said. "There's only so many hours in our days.”

She said the increase in demand began even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, as people have become more aware of their own mental health.

There are other options for people struggling to find a provider. For example, teletherapy has become increasingly popular.

Austin-based Televero Health provides virtual counseling and psychiatry services based on referrals from general practitioners around Texas.

“They can be on their mobile device, their tablet, on a computer--anywhere, essentially, receiving care," said Televero chief operating officer Ray Wolf. "The same thing goes for our providers, so it's a very attractive way for them to deliver care.”

Locally, the Heart of Texas Region MHMR has been providing free, anonymous, short-term counseling through its Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program for those affected by COVID-19.

"We see a lot of anxiety out there right now, we're seeing an increased irritability and anger and a lot of grief," said project manager Vince Erickson. "Over the last year, how many people have missed things? People have missed funerals of loved ones because of COVID."

Since the federally-funded program began in spring 2020, it has served over 23,000 people in McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill and Limestone counties.

Church said while it's nice to find the perfect fit for a mental health professional, the current shortage makes that sometimes not an option.

"It's always hard when we have to turn people away or put them on a waitlist, but everybody is just trying to do the best that they can," she said.

She encourages people to not give up, even if it seems like a challenge.

To locate therapists in your area, you can visit Psychology Today.

To learn more about the Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program, you can visit their website or call (866) 576-1101.