Have you tried to find a psychiatrist lately? It can be hard. Of course, there are your insurance panels, if the docs listed aren't dead or listed in error and are taking patients. And sometimes, people just get lucky and make a call to happen upon a psychiatrist they like a lot.
It can also be a hassle, and to someone who contacted me recently, "If I didn't have an anxiety disorder when I started looking for a psychiatrists, I'd have one now!"
I can push an icon on my phone (Open Table) and find out in a matter of
minutes exactly which restaurants in Baltimore can take a party of 6 at
7:45 tonight, or another icon (Uber) to get a driver to take me to that dinner me in minutes,
but there's not an easy way to figure out who can see a patient quickly --
it's hit or miss and often a matter of luck or who you know, even when
there may be doctors with time, or perhaps someone who had a bunch of
unexpected cancellations one day.
I thought I would try to rectify this situation in Maryland and in less than an hour (~I've had a little practice with these website things), I was able to set up an Access to Care website in Maryland, located at MarylandPsychiatrists.net. Do check it out, and each week, more and more psychiatrists have registered with openings. I'm trying to get the word out that the website exists, so if you're a doctor in Maryland, do let folks know.
I applaud your initiative. Of course, other directories exist, most notably Psychology Today and Goodtherapy.org. Both list psychiatrists, as well as many other mental health professionals, searchable by city or zip code. (Goodtherapy only features psychotherapy and not medication management.) Both sites charge $25-30/mo to be included, so it seems likely that most listed clinicians have availability and seek new patients. Disclosure: I'm in the PT directory.
A major challenge with any such directory is keeping it current. The San Francisco Psychiatric Society attempted one in the past, but it wasn't maintained. (SFPS also requires paid membership.) Providing such a service for free is a labor of love to be sure, but sustainability is apt to be difficult. Good luck!
That's a pretty good idea!
The other question is what to do when your psychiatrist doesn't have available appointments? My psychs next available appointment is in 8 weeks!!!! I think it might just be easier to find a new doc!
So far, it's taking me a few minutes every 10 days or so. A bunch of people have told me there are other sites, for example the APA's find a psychiatrist - but it only has a few people in my area and some of those (oops, that includes me) aren't taking new patients or don't have clinical practices. ZocDoc provides patient-doctor matching with online scheduling and sometimes same-day appointments -- a wonderful service but they charge the doc $300/month and there is exactly one psychiatrist in Baltimore (who also has office in 3 other maryland cities). And none of these services are for quick appointments --
So this is free, and lists people available within 2 weeks.
The problem is that my pool of docs is those on the MPS listserv-- others are welcome but they have to remember to come on, and there is some overlap with those on Psychology Today. And no one knows the site exists, I have asked the state medical society to publish it and I've been emailing people as I can, putting it on the blog, tweeting, etc. We'll see, it's hard to find an available psychiatrist here, so I think there's a need. If it gets to be too much...well, I'll worry about that when it happens. If nothing else, I know who has time and I give out those names when people call me.
BecB -- I may write a post for you later.
I am not blogging anymore, but you might find this column by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post of interest:
Ties into this post here, I would hope.
Happy Holidays to you and all.
Joel Hassman, MD
What a great idea!
I saw my primary doctor this summer when my anxiety started getting out of control. I have been in therapy for awhile, and on antidepressants once before, so I knew some medication would probably help. My GP had no problem prescribing prozac. After two month, I saw no relief, so he upped the dosage and kept encouraging me to stick with it.
When I saw him in November still feeling awful, he recommended I see a psychiatrist.
So. I went to my BCBS website and printed off pages and pages of "preferred" providers in my area. I asked my therapist for recommendations. And I started making phone calls. Every day after work (I get off at 3), I would spend an hour calling phone numbers.
Some were disconnected. Many weren't taking new patients. A few had retired. One was in Europe and wouldn't be back for a month. One could fit me in...next May. I was screened by 6 receptionists and answered hard questions on the phone that would be passed along to the psychiatrist, who would call me back if they wanted to take on my case.
I called 63 phone numbers.
Two weeks later, one called back willing to see me. I feel like I've won the lottery!
I had no idea how hard it would be to get this appointment. I've heard people comment about the mentally ill...why don't they just get help?
Well, geeze, even with resources (good insurance and money to pay), getting help has been a challenge. And I'm extremely motivated. I have a family and a job I love...what about the person who feels terrible and can't get out of bed who has no one?
This has been an eye opening experience.
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