Psychologists struggle to meet rising demand for mental health services

Demand for mental health treatment has continued to rise as many psychologists report no longer having the ability to see new patients, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association.

The 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey found that demand for treatment of anxiety and depression remained high for the third consecutive year, while demand for treatment for trauma-related disorders and increased stressors and substance use disorders. Six in 10 practitioners said they had no more openings for new patients, nearly half (46%) said they had been unable to meet treatment demand and nearly three quarters (72%) have longer waiting lists than before the pandemic. On average, psychologists reported being contacted by more than 15 potential new patients seeking care per week.

Nearly eight in 10 psychologists (79%) said they had seen an increase in the number of patients with anxiety disorders since the start of the pandemic, and 66% had seen an increase in the demand for treatment for depression. Almost half (47%) said they had seen an increase in demand for addiction treatment (compared to 43% last year) and 64% had seen an increase in demand for trauma treatment (compared to 62% last year). 2021). Additionally, two-thirds of psychologists reported seeing an increase in symptom severity among patients in 2022.

The national mental health crisis continues. If you are having difficulty, know that you are not alone. Psychological science shows that social support is key to building resilience, so if you’re having difficulty accessing care in a timely manner, reach out to others to find support and identify ways to cope.”

Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of APA

The survey also revealed a growing demand for mental health services from young people and health care workers in particular. Across all age groups, the largest increase in patients was in adolescents aged 13-17, with 46% of psychologists reporting increases in the previous 12 months. Large percentages of psychologists also reported an increase in the number of patients aged 18-25 (40%) and children under 13 (38%) over the same period. Almost half of psychologists (46%) reported an increase in the number of healthcare workers seeking treatment since the start of the pandemic.

“Having timely access to psychological services is critical to meeting the needs of people diagnosed with behavioral health issues,” Evans said. “But we need to tackle this problem with a variety of solutions, beyond individual therapy. We need to support and expand the workforce, promote integrated behavioral health in primary care, improve health literacy mental health, using technology and innovation to extend reach and improve efficiency But most importantly, we need to broaden our paradigm to address behavioral health – particularly if we are to successfully address health disparities – using more public health strategies to reach people earlier and in the places where they live, work, play and love.

As the pandemic wanes and in-person interactions become more common, 11% of psychologists now see all patients in person, up from 4% in 2021. Still, telehealth remains an important option – more than half of psychologists (58 %) are now seeing some patients remotely and others in person, and 31% said they see all patients via telehealth (compared to 47% in 2021).

Telehealth services can expand access to patients who otherwise could not access treatment, especially patients from underserved communities, such as those living in rural areas and communities of color. The APA continues to advocate for expanded telehealth coverage from insurance companies, including audio-only coverage and reimbursement at the same rate as face-to-face therapy.

Faced with an ongoing demand for mental health treatment, more than four in 10 psychologists (45%) reported feeling burnt out. However, most psychologists said they had consulted peers or support to manage burnout (60%), that they were able to take care of themselves (77%), and that they managed to maintain a positive work-life balance (63%).


The American Psychological Association’s 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey examined how the practice of psychologists has evolved since the pandemic. This survey was distributed to approximately 62,900 active licensed PhD-level psychologists in the United States from September 20 to October 7, 2022. A total of 2,295 psychologists responded. This is the third annual survey of APA practitioners.


American Psychological Association


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