Blog Post

Therapists React to America’s Worsening Mental Health Crisis

“Mental Health professionals are drowning.”

Key findings and testimonials from over 1,300 therapists nationwide in a recent article published by the New York Times highlights what we at evolvedMD unfortunately know all too well: the mental health crisis in the U.S. continues to worsen with severe scarcity for access to services.

According to the State of Mental Health in America by Mental Health America, nearly 50 million American adults experienced a mental illness and over 27 million with a mental illness do not receive treatment. Other daily reports and commentary (USA Today, US Department of Health & Human Services, NPR) further illuminate the sad state of affairs in mental health.

The latest look at the state of mental health comes directly from the heroes on the frontlines: mental health professionals. The compelling NYT piece surveyed more than a thousand therapists to unearth their experiences working with patients directly and reflections on what those experiences mean for mental health at large. Some key findings:

  • Nine out of 10 therapists say the number of clients seeking care is on the rise.
  • 75% reported an increase in wait times. Nearly one in three said it could take at least three months to get an appointment or that they didn’t have room for new patients at all.
  • 28% said virtual counseling had made caring for patients more difficult.
  • Nearly four in 10 predicted that things would get much worse and that they would struggle to meet the mental health needs of their patients in the coming months.

Insights and anecdotes from therapists surveyed include:

  • “Mental health professionals are drowning.”
  • “It doesn’t feel hopeless, but as a person and a clinician, it is hard to always maintain that positive reframe in the face of all this. Therapists are tired.”
  • “I believe I will be helping people navigate the effects of the pandemic for the rest of my career.”

Once again, harrowing. As a national leader in the integration of behavioral health services in primary care, increasing access to care and tackling the mental health crisis is core to evolvedMD’s mission. With the overwhelming majority of our team frontline therapists, we wanted to source their reactions to the New York Times’ survey to get a sense of what they’re seeing. Featuring a wide variety of responses, we’ve provided their reactions, testimonials, and insights below to give you a further look into their experiences.

evolvedMD’s frontline therapists weigh in on America’s worsening mental health crisis.


Jake Baczuk, LAMFT, Behavioral Health Manager
“I wasn’t super surprised because I have had struggles referring patients to other specialists as everyone seems to be full. I honestly hope that they can find the help they need. Within the model that evolvedMD has introduced in this field I have found success in decreasing burnout in myself. Maybe implementing a similar culture around the nation in the mental health field could be a start in changing the trajectory for all mental health professionals."

Shelby Banach, CSW, Behavioral Health Manager
“This article resonated with me regarding long waitlists as I have a 20+ person waitlist which address stress and pressure. Therapist burnout seems to be higher than ever when we consider working with our own clients while trying to navigate the same pandemic concerns on top of our usual personal life.” 

Sylvia Close, LMSW, Behavioral Health Manager
“I found this article interesting. I think there is an indicator for people maybe needing a hybrid of telehealth and in person, maybe not just one or the other. There’s a need for more therapists and providing therapy in out-of-the-box options.”

Janine Cwiklinski M.A., LPC, Behavioral Health Manager
“The article highlights what therapists have known all along… the systems of delivery and care require innovation and creative solutions to meet the growing tidal wave of which the pandemic has painfully revealed. My hope is that mental health and wellness will no longer be minimalized or marginalized. We are poised, uniquely at this moment of time as mental health providers to be advocates and architects of new pathways of care while holding the essence.”

Melissa Mann, LAMFT, Behavioral Health Manager
"I see COVID impacting my patients in a multitude of ways which are not easily addressed, especially with no end to the pandemic in sight. Many of my patients work in the health care industry which puts them at the front lines witnessing death, trauma, grief, sadness, and conflict while putting in another 80-hour work week. I have never diagnosed so many cases of anxiety and at the same time, treated patients with such a strong desire to heal from their ruminating thoughts and overwhelming feelings of vulnerability in our once healthy world. I am also unsure if the mental health industry can sustain this breakneck pace for services with such limited resources. The level of therapist burnout has never been so high. However, those of us who hold a passion for this work are dedicated to providing the best care possible.”

Mary Pals, LPC, Behavioral Health Manager
“The article was very interesting. I have a very strong opinion about the long-term concerns about mental health overall. The need for services is growing at a faster rate than the availability of therapists. The waiting lists are out of control and people cannot get the quality care they need. Therapists who take Medicare or Medicaid are burned out due to the increase in patients and all the requirements imposed from the payors. Many new independent therapists who choose to start a private practice are full within the first 1-2 months, and the waiting list cycle starts again." 

Joy Simon, Care Coordination Manager
“The first thing I would note about the findings is that none of it’s surprising. It’s extremely sad, but not surprising. Even before the pandemic, I believe there was a mental health crisis, but people were not focused on it. I believe now with the pandemic, people’s issues are coming to the forefront and it’s overwhelming to the providers. For some people, what they are feeling now is new to them and they don’t know how to handle their emotions and feelings, then being told no one is available to help."

Crystal Sulit, LMSW, Behavioral Health Manager
“As a licensed social worker, I definitely feel the burden of helping everyone who needs help, yet logically knowing there is no way to touch every patient. Most of my patients cite the pandemic as a source of stress and being overwhelmed. Many also cite the state of our country and politics as a source of stress and anxiety. The “uncertainty” of it all plays on the psyche of my patients. We are having to normalize our patients’ emotions, so they don’t think they’re ‘crazy’ or abnormal. The takeaway for me is--we are all human beings. We all feel negative emotions. We all feel emotional pain. We are all worthy of love and healing. We are not alone. There is help. Even if you are waiting to see a professional, don’t give up. Reach out to your friends, your family, your communities, your school, your church, your online support network. Don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Allyson Webb, LCSW, Behavioral Health Manager
“I am really glad you sent us this article because this is something I have been asked a lot by friends and family members the past few months. Things like 'Are you seeing more people because of the pandemic?' and 'How are YOU handling everything?' When I worked at the Suicide Hotline for Utah. Before COVID, I took maybe 5-7 calls a day and there was a lot of free time to work on education and to have self-care or even just consult on patients we had talked to earlier that day. After COVID, I was averaging 20+ calls a day, with 5 queue calls waiting. It's been hard to feel myself slipping into the throws of feeling helpless and powerless to help my patients at times, but the fact is that there are times where I could hardly help myself. I have that guilt of taking time for myself because there are patients who have waited weeks to see me and now have to wait weeks more. I think this article just put into words a lot of the things I have been thinking about these past few years."

Closing Thoughts


With this piece, evolvedMD wanted to make a statement about the widespread effects of the pandemic on the evolving mental health crisis, and to show that the 1,300 therapists surveyed—and all the other mental health professionals on the frontlines—are not alone in their experiences or their concerns. While there is much work to be done to reform healthcare—and by extension behavioral health—we’ve been intentionally thoughtful about rethinking how we deliver mental health services and taking swift action to ensure we can meet the growing needs of our patients. This also includes being thoughtful in our approach to taking good care of our clinicians and promoting self-care to prevent burnout, stress, and adverse mental health symptoms. If you’re a mental health professional experiencing fatigue or any adverse symptoms, we at evolvedMD encourage you to incorporate self-care into your daily routine to help you bring your best self to work, which in turn will strengthen your experience as you help patients navigate their struggles. We thank you for your service in this field and greatly appreciate the important work you’re doing every day.


Learn more about how evolvedMD’s tackling the mental health crisis
with our
innovative approach to behavioral health integration in modern primary care.

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