JUCM News readers know that there’s been an increase in both clinician burnout and patient visits related to mental health complaints and crises over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also known is the fact that physician shortages and other staffing issues are proving to be challenging for urgent care centers all over the country. A new article published by The Journal of the American Medical Association notes that the clinician shortage is actually a contributing factor to the pandemic mental health crisis, however. One physician quoted in the JAMA piece estimates that about one third of patients he sees have a mental health condition—let alone a complaint—and that in his area it can take several months for them to see a proper mental health professional. A pediatrician quoted said she’s seen it take as long as a year. Unless there’s a trained professional on your team—which is unlikely—the best the urgent care provider may be able to do is to assess whether there’s an imminent threat to the patient’s wellbeing (in which case referral or transport to the emergency room may be warranted) and have contact information for nearby therapists and counseling centers. The September issue of JUCM will feature an article on psychiatric manifestations of medical disease; watch for that. However, in the meantime bear in mind that looking out for other members of your team and practicing self-care is essential to your own well-being. A previously published JUCM article, Provider Burnout Is Real; Show Compassion for Yourself, may be helpful in this regard.
Batten Down the Hatches—a Perfect Storm Is Brewing on the Behavioral Health Front