When the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe in 2020, it brought millions of people fear, isolation, grief and insecurity – exacerbating what many experts called a mental crisis. Although some people turned to therapy as a solution – a third of the psychologists surveyed said they saw more patients since the start of the pandemic – providers generally struggled to meet the increase in demand. People lamented the waiting lists for therapists and complained that they were unable to find a provider, even with the advent of more online therapy options. While more people saw therapy as a solution, the pandemic fully helped the country recognize the barriers to access to therapy that have existed throughout history.
For this episode of Well you asked, I researched whether therapy is for everyone. A 2020 report showed that 57 percent of adults suffering from a mental illness did not receive any treatment. In addition, there is still a big difference between who can access treatment and in who seeks it. In New York City, for example, black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders are less likely to be associated with mental health care than white New Yorkers. Those without health insurance were less likely to receive mental health care, and the poorest neighborhoods had more than twice as many psychiatric hospitalizations per day. Population as the poorest neighborhood in New York City.
This episode explores some of the biggest questions about therapy: What makes psychotherapy effective? Why do only 55 percent of psychiatrists accept insurance plans? What is the cause of therapist shortage? Why are there no more color therapists? Why does therapy carry stigma? How does America’s history of brutalizing the mentally ill affect the field of psychology today? Is psychotherapy the only form of therapy that people should seek? How can alternative therapies help people improve their mental health?
I interviewed countless experts in psychology to answer these questions, and the episode features vignettes from average Americans about their experiences with therapy. I explored a sound bath and horse therapy to get past the form of psychotherapy. Check out the full section above to learn more about barriers to access to therapy and why therapy should be for everyone.
You can find this video and it all Vox videos on YouTube. Subscribe for more.
- Community psychic engagement with racistly diverse populations, by Alfiee M. Breland-Noble
- Mental health, drug use and suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC
- Mental health by the numbers, National Alliance on Mental Health
- “The toll of the pandemic is growing, ” JAMA
- Madness in the City with Magnificent Intentions: A Story of Race and Mental Illness in the Nation’s Capital, by Martin Summers
- Protest psychosis: How schizophrenia became a black diseaseby Jonathan Metzl
- The body retains the score: Brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk
- “Evaluation of the effect of equine therapy among vulnerable adolescents: A meta-analysis, ” Anthrozoos
- “Benefits of animal-assisted therapy in mental health, ” International Journal of Caring Sciences
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