In her 11/19 Huffington Post blog piece, Dr. Melissa Deuter, a psychiatrist, laments the lack of available psychiatric care. She’s correct about the insufficiency of psychiatrists to meet the needs of patients, and especially of children and adolescents who require medical evaluation and/or medication for their illnesses.
However, it is clear that she is also writing about “talking therapy” patients, who may or may not need medication or psychiatrist-monitoring. For those patients—probably the greatest number of those in need—there are many options available, aside from the “physician extenders like PAs and RNPs” to whom she so rudely refers.
If there are too few psychiatrists, there are certainly many more clinical social workers, the majority providers of behavioral health services in this country. Psychiatrists are welcome to take practical steps toward solving the problem of deferred services and unconscionably long waits for appointments. And they can start by acknowledging the capabilities of their fellow professionals—clinical social workers, and also psychologists, counselors, and marriage and family therapists. It’s not a new concept: it’s called holistic and integrated care, and psychiatrists should be practicing it.