by Bethany Ao, Posted: October 2, 2020
MONICA HERNDON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
At Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., Allison Blechschmidt has noticed a yearly uptick in the number of students seeking psychiatric services, such as diagnoses of mental-health issues and prescriptions for antidepressants and antianxiety medication.
As the director of Moravian’s counseling center, Blechschmidt has tried a number of solutions to deal with the growing demand, such as having a psychiatrist on campus on certain days of the week or referring students to providers in the community. But neither was particularly efficient — paying for a psychiatrist is expensive, especially for smaller colleges, and the shortage of psychiatrists in the Lehigh Valley meant long waits for students looking for off-campus services.
“If I can’t find someone in the community that a student can see in the next six weeks, that’s a long time for someone to be waiting,” Blechschmidt said. “All this time, the student can’t get out of bed.”
This is a common dilemma for colleges in more rural parts of the United States. A 2009 study found that 96% of U.S. counties have an unmet need for mental-health care professionals, and the problem is most prevalent in rural or suburban areas. In Pennsylvania, more than 1.7 million people live in areas with a shortage of mental-health care providers, according to KFF, a health-policy nonprofit. And the problem is expected to worsen: The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the United States may be facing a shortage of up to 15,600 psychiatrists by 2025.
Read more here on the Philadelphia Inquirer website: As need for mental-health services rises for college students, suburban Pa. campuses face lack of psychiatric providers