Lexie Fried doesn’t know if her therapist will have time to see her this week. Or next week. Or the next. The COVID-19 pandemic — a full year of stressful changes, frightening news and overwhelming isolation — has created a skyrocketing demand for mental health services that the industry can’t meet.
“He's constantly getting new people, so every week we have to see if I can even see him,” Fried said.
Her girlfriend, Mickela Harris, has searched for a therapist of her own without luck. She and Fried both take up the task of scrolling through online listings in search of openings.
“I’m willing to try anything just to feel like me again,” Harris said.
Dr. Ashley Solomon, a clinical psychologist who owns Galia Collaborative in Walnut Hills, is struggling, too. She said it breaks her heart to receive calls from would-be clients and know she doesn’t have time to see them.
“To have to put them on a waiting list or tell them we're not sure when they can access care feels so disheartening, because we don't know if these are people that will reach out again,” she said. “This might have been a first time that they were willing to take this really significant step."
When her practice can’t accommodate a new client right away, her team encourages them to look for alternatives, such as support groups to help them while they wait.
“(We do that) especially if what you’re experiencing, the needs, could be met by a support group, by some other kind of supportive community,” she said.
For some, holistic therapy like the kind offered by Mattie Griffin at Body Wisdom Collective might be a solution — or at least part of one. Griffin’s Holistic Trauma Counseling in Northside offers Ayurveda, Thai yoga therapy and other alternative therapies to help clients deal with stress.
Griffin said her practice has attracted new interest from people who have not been able to find other support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress,” she said. “Just an extraordinary challenging year for so many people."
If you are struggling to find a mental health professional, Solomon recommends reaching out to your insurance network and asking for local referrals.