Psychiatrist shortage in Waco sends some to church for help

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2018-04-05 11:31:49-04

A mental illness expert said there are over 22 thousand people in Waco suffering from mental, but there are less than 20 psychiatrist in the city to treat them.  

Executive director of Face it Together, Jenna Hoff said the numbers are startling. "We’re starting to look like an epidemic, and there are a lot of people in the community that struggle with it, and probably very few that don’t have an direct correlation with them," Hoff said. "We have 13 psychiatrist here in Waco that number kind of ebbs and flows a little bit."

With so many people facing mental illness, and so little doctors to help them, Hoff said people in the city could wait 6 to 8 weeks before getting the help they need. She said that could mean life or death for many people, and that some are turning to the church for help instead. 

"Research has shown that they’ll go to their pastor first," she said. "But research has also shown that the pastors aren’t giving the greatest advice for that." 

Hoff said that’s because she believes pastors will likely tell their pupil that mental illness does not exist, or that they can just pray it away.

Reverend Bryan Dalco said that's not the case with his church. 

"God is big enough to heal in a variety of ways," Dalco said. "You do have individuals who believe in just one form of healing and that is the miraculous healing, but we can’t limit how God chooses to heal. He very well could choose to heal through a mental health professional and we want to educate and help people understand that" 

Face it Together is scheduled to open in November of this year. 

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