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People seeking mental health treatment navigate long wait times

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 8:36 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Wait times for mental health treatments are still high.

In-patient treatment facilities are saying it may take a few days for you to even get a bed.

“Unfortunately, we have been experiencing some delays in our admission times and folks have been in our emergency rooms awaiting assignment for an appropriate bed across our system,” said Angela Harvell, Deputy Commissioner for Facility Services for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Harvell said they don’t have the resources right now.

“We did see a marked increase during the COVID pandemic. More recently, we have seen an increase due to beds that are offline at state hospitals because of our significant staffing shortages,” Harvell said.

That creates long wait times for treatment.

“Some wait times have been as long as a week or more, and like I said just depending on the situation with the individual,” Harvell said.

For patients seeking counseling, the wait can be a month to six weeks until the first appointment.

“I think we are starting to see that the wait times are coming down slightly, which is good because they were at one point six months,” said Bruce Blair with Mental Health America of Augusta.

Blair said there are many options to seek therapy virtually through services like BetterHelp and Talkspace.

And Blair had a message for anyone seeking or considering mental health treatment: “Each person has a different journey that they go through with mental health. It’s important to know that they’re not alone in that journey.”

Blair said you can also reach out to Mental Health America of Augusta for tips for navigating your wait period, as well as other resources you may be interested in.

The ARROW Project has tips for that wait period:

1. Know the wait times. If you don’t know, ask.

2. Know alternative options, like hotlines and peer-led community groups.

3. Make sure you’ve followed all the steps, like verifying insurance. There may be a holdup there.

4. Take care of yourself by doing things you enjoy.

5. Create a support group of people you love.

6. Follow up with that provider. Your needs may change, and they may have other resources for you.

To learn more about the National Alliance of Mental Illness, click here to go to their website. Call or text the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 if you have suicidal thoughts.

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