Despite the more than 50 million Americans — that’s 25 percent of the population — suffering from mental disorders, there are a limited number of psychiatrists available to diagnose and treat them.
And only about half of those professionals accept private insurance, which further limits access to care.
Patients who would benefit from seeing a specialist instead often receive care from their primary care physician, who usually doesn’t have the training or experience to deal with more complicated mental disorders.
If you or someone you know is seeking the care of a psychiatrist, it’s best to start by asking your primary care provider for a referral.
Checking your health plan’s list of providers within your network can also be helpful.
For those in rural settings, telepsychiatry offers an alternative strategy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also provides support services. Call 1-800-950-NAMI to find a chapter near you.
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