Jun. 6—PORTLAND — Dr.
"I am doing it the old-fashioned way," she said, and is working to get each of the approximately 60 patients in her practice transferred to a new provider before she retires.
But psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other mental and behavioral health counselors are in short supply in
"This is a real nightmare for the community," said Dr.
Though primary care physicians can prescribe psychiatric medications, they do not have the same specialized training as psychiatrists, so people with more complicated mental health needs generally benefit more from treatment by psychiatrists, Barkin said.
Adding to the short supply, the field does not have enough funding to boost services and to offer incentives to recruit new hires, which became more dire following former Gov.
"It's hard work and it's not as well paying, so I think that folks don't necessarily make community behavioral health" a focus in their careers, said
That makes it nearly impossible for nonprofit, community-based organizations such as
"We have had postings up for years inviting people to interview with us," Ryder said.
From 2015 to 2020, the number of licensed psychiatrists practicing in
This has left an "acute need" for services in
She was working a minimum wage job at a day care at the time and couldn't afford to see a psychiatrist out of her insurance network, so her primary care physician was treating her complex post-traumatic stress disorder as she waited to get off the list.
"I was not in good shape," Reed said. "It was really hard for me to just understand what was going on with me and just trying to get by, really just the day-by-day to maintain relationships and maintaining a job."
Reed's saving grace was the landscape business she started last year: She was gardening at Barkin's house one day when his wife came out to chat. Reed's doctor had put her on a new medication and she wasn't feeling well, so Barkin's wife asked him to talk with Reed.
"Basically, he connected me with
"Without being able to see my therapist, I mean, I most likely wouldn't have a job. I probably would not still be living in my apartment," she said. "Honestly, I just, I really don't know where I would have been if I didn't meet Jeff."
Reed said her chance encounter with Barkin "was the best thing that ever happened to me." She still hasn't gotten a call back about the waiting list her primary care physician put her on.
Reed may be one of the luckier ones, though, because she was actually able to see someone.
"We really have a crisis in our state," Leitzer said. "The bottom line is there are too few clinicians, period, and there are too few of those who accept insurance," which is of note for
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