If you are struggling with mental health issues, getting placed on a waitlist to see a psychiatrist or therapist feels frustrating and scary. You have a sense of urgency to get the help you need and waiting on a waitlist to see a psychiatrist is likely only contributing to your negative symptoms.
In this article, we’ll discuss tips for coping and offer helpful resources you can take advantage of while you wait to see a mental health professional.
We’ll answer some important questions, such as—
- How long are waitlists to see a mental health professional?
- Why are therapy waitlists so long?
- 16 tips for managing mental illness when waiting on a waitlist to see psychiatrist
If you want access to mental health professionals within 48 hours or less, book an appointment on Klarity. We’ll match you with a mental health specialist who will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your individual needs.
Disclaimer: If you are in a mental health crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, it is crucial to seek immediate help from a mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. You can also call your local emergency services, visit your nearest emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the United States.
How Long Are Therapy Waitlists?
The average wait time to see a therapist is around six weeks. However, this can vary significantly depending on the location, availability of therapists in the area, and the type of treatment you need. Sometimes, waitlists for therapy can be several months long, particularly in areas with a high demand for mental health services.
It’s important to develop coping strategies while navigating waitlists so that you can do your best to take care of yourself in the meantime. Additionally, not all psychology offices or telehealth companies have waitlists for therapists, as there’s been major improvements over the past year following the COVID-19 pandemic.
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16 Tips To Help You When Waiting to See a Therapist
Waiting to see a therapist can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to help manage your mental health while you wait. Here are some tips you should consider:
- Opt For Telemedicine
Telemedicine can be a great alternative if you cannot find an opening with a therapist in your area. Telemedicine allows you to receive treatment remotely, through phone or video sessions, in the comfort of your own home. Because it’s online, telemedicine appointments are usually easier to come by and more flexible so that you can work within your ideal schedule.
- Get On the Waitlist of Other Agencies
If you’re on a waitlist at one agency, it’s a good idea to reach out to other agencies in your area to see if they have any openings. This can help you receive treatment faster and allow you to try out a couple of different therapists to find the best one for you.
- Join a Support Group
Joining a support group can be a great way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Support groups provide a sense of community and a safe space to talk about your struggles with others who understand. You can often find these groups online and in person, which makes getting support more accessible while you wait for a therapy opening.
- Start Exercising
Exercise has been shown to positively impact mental health by boosting endorphins. Consider starting an exercise routine, whether going for a walk or run, practicing yoga, or lifting weights. Consistently moving your body can help improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Try Meditation
Meditation can be a helpful mindfulness tool for managing stress and anxiety. Some people find guided meditations, such as those available on apps like Headspace, Calm, or Meditopia, particularly helpful. There are many different types of meditation, so it’s worth trying a few other techniques to see what works best for you.
- Contact SAMHSA
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a federal agency that provides support for people seeking mental health services. You can contact SAMHSA to learn about resources in your area that can help you find a therapist or a community of support.
- Call a Hotline
If you need someone to talk to or you’re experiencing an acute mental health crisis, including thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation, consider calling a hotline. Many hotlines can provide support and resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line. Sometimes just being heard by someone else can make all the difference when you are in a crisis.
- Practice self-care
Develop a self-care routine that includes activities you enjoy and that promote relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy and help reduce stress.
- Learn about your mental health condition
Educate yourself about the specific mental health issue you’re facing. Understanding your condition and its symptoms can help you better manage your emotions and behaviors during the waiting period.
- Develop healthy coping strategies
Practice techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization to help manage stress, anxiety, or other symptoms you may be experiencing.
- Connect with friends and family
Reach out to your support network and share your feelings with people you trust. Having someone to talk to can help alleviate feelings of isolation or hopelessness.
- Maintain a healthy routine
Establish a consistent sleep schedule, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. A healthy routine can contribute to better mental health and help manage symptoms.
- Set small, achievable goals
Break down larger tasks or goals into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help you experience a sense of accomplishment, even while waiting for professional help.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic and help you process emotions, track symptoms, or identify patterns in your behavior.
- Use self-help resources
Explore books, podcasts, or online resources related to mental health and well-being. These materials can provide valuable insights, coping strategies, and techniques to help manage your mental health.
- Volunteer or engage in community activities
Participating in local events or volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and social connection, which can contribute positively to mental health.
Get Mental Health Care With Klarity in 48 Hours or Less
Getting access to mental health care services should not take weeks. Our telehealth platform connects you with licensed mental health care providers who offer psychiatric services—diagnosis and medication prescription. You don’t need to wait weeks—in fact, in most cases, you can access mental health professionals in 48 hours or less.
Get started with mental health providers on Klarity and book an appointment today!
Nina Chamlou. “What to Do on a Therapy Waitlist” Psychology.org
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms” Mayo Clinic
“Benefits of Mindfulness” Meditopia