Finding a therapist — let alone one who is a good fit — can take time and determination, especially during the pandemic, when many therapists report they cannot keep up with demand and must turn away patients.

When The New York Times surveyed 1,320 mental health professionals in November, nine out of 10 therapists said the number of people seeking care was on the rise. During a Senate committee hearing in February to address the nation’s growing mental health and substance abuse problem, Senator Patty Murray of Washington noted that nearly 130 million Americans live in places with less than one mental health care provider per 30,000 people.

Even therapists can have trouble finding help. Thomas Armstrong, a clinical psychologist in eastern Washington, waited more than a year to get treatment for his youngest child, who was 2 when they started searching. And it took more than two years to get the treatment that proved most beneficial, found only after he tapped into his academic network through Twitter.

“All the stars had to align for me,” he said.

If you are looking for a mental health care provider, don’t give up — there are several strategies that can help.

For some people — like those suffering from a debilitating bout of depression — the thought of spending weeks or months searching for a therapist can seem overwhelming.

“It’s not something you’re doing wrong — it’s that the system is inherently broken and it needs fixing,” Jessi Gold, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, said.

If you don’t have the energy to get started, ask a friend or family member to help you contact providers and set up an appointment, Dr. Gold suggested. It is “one of the best ways that people who care about you can help with your mental heath,” she added.

You can also try getting referrals directly from your personal network — whether it is someone from your local parenting group, your friend’s …….


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