Finding a Mental Health Provider
The increasing demand for mental health services has led to a shortage of providers and longer waitlists. Read this article to see how we're expanding our options and get tips for finding mental health care in Vermont.
More people these days are seeking treatment for concerns such as anxiety and depression. While it’s good that they are reaching out for professional help, the increased demand for mental health services means it can be more difficult to find a provider.
A recent national survey by the American Psychological Association found that 60 percent of psychologists no longer have openings for new patients, and nearly three-quarters have longer waitlists than before the pandemic.
In Vermont, the average wait time to see a psychiatrist is 54 days, according to a report from the Agency of Human Services. In some practices, it could take up to a year to get an appointment. Participants in public forums held by the agency said they’ve had significant difficulty accessing mental health treatment in Vermont, while providers said the state’s mental health workforce cannot meet the demand for care.
To help our members receive the care they need, we’ve put together some advice for finding a mental health provider and getting treatment quickly.
Virtual Mental Health Clinic
The use of telemedicine for mental health increased dramatically during the pandemic, and now that the public health emergency has ended, it has continued to be an important way of delivering care. Because of this, we now offer our members access to two virtual mental health networks:
- Valera Health provides comprehensive treatment for conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Amwell offers online sessions with psychiatrists and other therapists for a wide range of conditions, including panic attacks, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Valera Health is our newest telehealth offering, available by downloading the Valera app. One of the company’s Health Connectors will assess your needs and match you with a provider, scheduling an appointment. Treatment sessions are available for adults and children between the ages of six and 18. Live therapy is delivered via video call, and the company’s providers can also help manage your medications.
Valera Health has a specialized treatment program for patients with serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as a treatment program for children and adolescents. High-risk patients are assigned to their own case manager, who works closely with the patient to ensure their symptoms are being well managed.
If you’d rather see a mental health provider face-to-face, a good place to start your search is with our online Find-A-Doctor tool.
- In the search criteria form, use the Role/Specialty drop-down to select specialties like mental health counselor, psychiatry, or psychologist. (Tip: hold down the control or command key to select more than one specialty.)
- If you want to see a provider near you, enter your postal code in the search by distance section of the form. You can also enter your preference for how far away the provider is.
- Under advanced search options, be sure to check the ‘accepting new patients’ box to find providers who are willing to take on new patients.
Once you have a list of search results, you can click on a provider’s name to see more information about them, including which of our networks they participate in.
While our Find-A-Doctor tool is an up-to-date directory of all the providers participating in our networks, other online directories of Vermont mental health providers are available. Please note that providers in these directories may not be covered by your plan, so it’s important to ask about that in advance.
- The Vermont Psychological Association has a searchable directory of its members.
- The Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association has a search form to find a counselor.
As with other providers, it’s important to look for a mental health practitioner who you’ll be comfortable with. You can read provider reviews on websites such as Healthgrades. Personal profile information, such as certifications and education, is often available on the website of the hospital that the provider is affiliated with. You may also want to ask for recommendations from friends and family to narrow your search.
Here are some other ideas for how to get help with your mental health.
- Ask your primary care physician if they can give you the names and contact information of some therapists in your community.
- If your employer has an employee assistance program, that can be a good way to get help with personal problems affecting your mental health. Most employee assistance programs offer quick access to confidential counseling with licensed mental health professionals. Immediate family members may also be eligible to receive services.
- The Vermont Department of Mental Health has designated private, non-profit agencies to provide mental health services in each region of the state. Find the designated agency for your area.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available in Vermont by dialing 988. More information about suicide prevention is available in this blog article.
- Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting “VT” to 741741
- Vermont Peer Support Line is available 24/7 by calling or texting 833-888-2557
Don’t Give Up
We know that it can be difficult to find mental health treatment and we’re constantly working to expand access to care for our members and all Vermonters. If you are having trouble getting an appointment, we encourage you to keep trying, as it’s very important that you not let your condition go untreated. You may need to widen your search to include providers in other areas of the state (if you have the ability to travel), or you may need to consider alternatives such as telehealth.
If you have questions about your benefits or need help finding providers in our network, please give our customer service team a call at 1-800-247-2583. We’re available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., except holidays. You can also log into your Member Resource Center account to send us a secure email.