Mental Health Workers Say Licensing Delays Are Preventing Them From Meeting Demand For Services
Many people continue to struggle with the mental health effects of the pandemic, which has upended so much and is now entering its third year.
It’s no surprise that, by several measures, mental health providers are in high demand. But some budding therapists ready to enter the field say state licensing delays are holding them back from providing care.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars on a master’s degree, Susie Cobb said she’s ready to take the next step in her career as a postpartum therapist in Ventura County.
Cobb, who recently gave birth, said she attends meetings of new mom groups and hears from women going through birth trauma, postpartum anxiety and isolation.
“[There is] so much emotional pain in our country right now, I don’t care what side of the line you fall on politically, people are suffering and we’re unable to help them,” she said.
Cobb and other mental health professionals we heard from maintain that delays from the state’s Board of Behavioral Sciences are part of the problem. Cobb said she’s been waiting on her Associate Marriage and Family Therapist application for about two-and-a-half months.
By the board’s own accounting, it can be even worse if you’re applying for the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist exam: average processing time from July through September of last year was about six months. That’s up from about two-and-a-half months in 2018.
In an emailed statement, the Board said it “understands the concerns and impacts processing delays have had in the past on certain applicants and is working diligently to process all applications, identify solutions, address processing delays, and improve processing times.”
In the meantime, Cobb said waiting on her licensing is a stress on her financially, too.
“The expectation that you, as a clinician, are somehow going to be self-sustaining for this time period ... I don’t know what the thinking is there,” she said.
According to a New York Times survey in partnership with Psychology Today, nine out of 10 therapists say the number of people seeking help is on the rise.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or visit: https://988lifeline.org/current-events/the-lifeline-and-988/ for online chat.
For more help:
Find 5 Action Steps for helping someone who may be suicidal, from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Six questions to ask to help assess the severity of someone's suicide risk, from the Columbia Lighthouse Project.
To prevent a future crisis, here's how to help someone make a safety plan
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s 24/7 Help Line (Spanish available): 800-854-7771
East Los Angeles Women’s Center 24/7 crisis hotline (Spanish available): 800-585-6231
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis counseling