New therapy options were desperately needed before the pandemic

Two facts overshadow all discussions of mental health care in the US.

One is the high and growing demand for it. In 2019, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 16.5 million adults said they felt like they needed mental health treatment or counseling but didn’t get it. Forty percent of these Americans said the reason they didn’t get care was that they couldn’t afford it.

With the stress of the pandemic, the mental health needs of the country have likely only grown. Nationally, around 31 percent of Americans reported recent symptoms of anxiety and depression in an August survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For comparison, in the first three months of 2019, just 11 percent of Americans reported these symptoms on a similar survey.

The second fact is that there’s a dire mental health care provider shortage that’s forecast to grow in the coming decades, as demand for mental health services continues to outstrip supply. The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis estimates that, by 2025, there will be shortages of psychiatrists, clinical counseling and school psychologists, marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and mental health and substance abuse social workers that number in the tens of thousands.

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