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Local therapist says there has been a shortage in mental health services since pandemic

Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services says "some counselors and some therapists in the mental health sections are not able to see patients as rapidly."

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — There's a need for mental health services now more than ever. However, health experts say it's been a struggle to meet the high demand for care during the pandemic.

Our WZDX reporter spoke with a Huntsville therapist about how this impacts us here in the Tennessee Valley.

"Yes, there has been a shortage. And some counselors and some therapists in the mental health sections are not able to see patients as rapidly," says Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services Psychotherapist, Monretta Vega.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports in a February survey, two-thirds of the members surveyed from the National Council for Behavioral Health, saw higher needs for mental health services and have had to cancel or reschedule patient appointments, and even turn patients away.

"You can find a therapist or a psychotherapist that will be able to help you maybe in the immediate time frame, or they will at least be able to put you on a waiting list," says Vega.

"We actually communicate via email, and we are always out here looking for different resources, different support groups, and just anyone who has availability within a week's time frame," added Vega.

The Health Resources and Services Administration also projects by 2025 there will be shortages of seven types of mental health providers including psychiatrists; clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

"By 2025, hopefully there will be some other counselors and social workers, or even some other students who start to look at psychology and say 'hey, that's something that I actually might want to get into'," says Vega.

Vega says her clinic is really leaning on what they've learned in the past year during the pandemic and accommodating patients in any way they can. 

"I know for Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services, we are going towards not only having in-person sessions but telehealth services as well which will actually be able to provide something dual and provide a bigger population," says Vega.

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