The number of psychologists is on the rise in the United States.
But a new survey finds some of the best-trained doctors and therapists are struggling to stay competitive.
The survey by the Association of Certified Mental Health Professionals, or ACMHP, looked at the state of the profession in 2015, and found the percentage of physicians practicing mental health increased from 10.6 percent to 15.6%.
That’s down from 22.5 percent in 2015.
ACMHM says its survey found that more than half of practicing psychologists are on the brink of retirement, and many have not been paid for months.
ACMJHP President and CEO Jennifer McElhaney says this is a problem because it can cause people to stop taking the time to become more skilled psychologists.
“It can really set the bar too low for people to be able to advance,” McElhaig says.
Some doctors and other mental health professionals say the lack of pay, training and certification are preventing them from taking their training seriously.
“We are in a position right now where there are so many people with degrees in psychology and so few with experience that we have a real shortage,” says Dr. John DeFaria, who is director of the center for occupational therapy at Cleveland Clinic.
“I am trying to make my practice sustainable and that means not only getting the training but also having the experience.
And we need that right now.”
He adds that the shortage is a symptom of the national mental health crisis.
“The problem is that there are not enough professionals who have the training and the experience to go into the field,” he says.
A survey of more than 10,000 people found that most doctors and nurses said they were willing to take on a job as a mental health counselor, social worker, nurse or therapist.
But only about half said they’d do it as a doctor, and more than two-thirds said they weren’t ready to take that job.
The shortage is not just in the medical field.
ACME, which represents more than 500,000 doctors, nurses and other health professionals, says that of the 2.4 million practicing psychologists, nearly half of them say they’ve lost their jobs.
Dr. Peter R. Stahl, director of ACME’s Professional Counseling Institute, says this isn’t surprising.
He says the profession is being forced to grow rapidly, but the demand for practice is also growing.
“Part of it is that they don’t have the resources, and part of it there’s a culture of not doing well,” he explains.
“There’s a perception that there is not a lot of practice, but there is a lack of training.”
Dr. Roshni T. Nachbar, a practicing physician in the Cleveland Clinic’s practice area, says it’s important to have a good mental health program in place.
“You want to make sure that you are not treating people for a lack or a deficiency of the disease, not just for mental health problems but also to prevent them from suffering from other problems,” she says.
“If you can do that, then you are doing the right thing.”
Doctors are also not getting paid enough, according to ACMH.
A report by the National Institute of Mental Health found that the average physician’s pay has dropped by 8.3 percent since 2000, but that average salary for practicing psychologists and other psychologists who work in the private sector is up 14.7 percent.
The report said that the pay gap was widening even though the number of practicing doctors grew by 9 percent over the same period.
Dr, Paul J. Hargis, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says the gap between what doctors make and what they’re earning is partly due to the cost of practice.
“In the private system, a lot more people are going to be working in that profession,” he tells NPR.
“So the price of practice is higher, so the compensation is higher.”
Dr Hargish says the shortage of trained mental health providers also plays a role.
“One of the reasons why we are not seeing a decrease in the number in our profession is because people are not getting trained,” he adds.
Dr Nachar says that some doctors and mental health practitioners are being pushed out because they’re not able to maintain their practices.
“Sometimes people have to leave because they don: They have to go to a different practice,” she explains.
Some states have tried to address the shortage by expanding mental health clinics, but experts say it’s not working.
“Most states have no mental health clinic, no psychiatric hospital,” says Andrew Rabinowitz, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University.
“And they do have clinics for mental illnesses, but they have none for psychological conditions.”
Dr Rabinowksi says there’s also the issue of funding.
“They have a tremendous amount of state funding,” he points out. “But the