Therapists see influx in people seeking mental health services

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Since the pandemic began, therapists have received dozens of calls a week from people trying to set up appointments.

Ty Neely with Heights Family Counseling said they are hearing from people who have never been to therapy before and are now seeking it out.

The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in November 2020 and found that almost three-quarters of licensed psychologists who deal with anxiety and 60% who treat depression reported an increased demand for their services.

Neely said he is seeing parents, students, singles and couples who are facing challenges they want to talk through.

"I've been seeing a lot of families struggling with the virtual school option," he said. "A lot of my teenagers, let's say 90% of them, their grades have been slipping. They have become more depressed than normal. I am seeing a lot of unhealthy co-dependency (among couples.) When we have nothing else but our partner, over time we base our self-worth on our partner especially during COVID when we have had nothing else to do."

In addition, Dr. Beatriz Craven, a psychologist and owner of Modern Therapy, said her practice has seen professionals, expectant mothers, singles and couples.

"It feels like life got thrown into a blender," Craven said. "Instead of having the compartmentalization, where we were able to move from one thing to another and feel grounded in our identity, everything got thrown together."

Some psychologists are putting clients who call in wanting help on a waitlist, while others refer them to colleagues who can work with them immediately.

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Both psychologists said a person does not need to wait until they are hitting a breaking point to seek mental health services.

"The earlier we can get into it, the better," Dr. Craven said. "Why wait, from a logical stand point? It's like I can. I can muscle my way through. I can handle it, but if I don't have to, why would I if I can make things better now?"

For a person who is struggling but does not know what to do next, Mental Health America of Greater Houston has a quick online confidential screening that will provide next steps.

"There are several different screenings," Renae Tomczak, president and CEO of MHA, said. "Let's say you're a new mom and you're wondering if you are suffering from post-partum depression, if you're suffering from anxiety, depression, alcohol, PTSD, bi-polar."

SEE RELATED: Where Texas parents and students with mental health concerns can turn for help

Tomczak said in January 2020, they had 160 people fill out the screening. Now, she said they are having as many as 2,000 every month. Over the last year, 15,000 people have utilized the tool.

Therapy can cost hundreds of dollars, but being able to afford to see a mental health professional should not be a barrier that keeps someone from seeking help.

MHA has a list of free services, including hotlines, group therapy, individual counseling and more on their website.

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