ROSLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A shortage of mental health providers is keeping some patients waiting for months.

Many families are paying out of pocket to get help because healthcare providers are refusing to take insurance – saying reimbursements are just too low.

One quarter of Long Island families surveyed said they were unable to find a mental health provider who takes their insurance. Those families told CBS2 they’re angered having to wait for help.

“Sometimes it takes them days, weeks, months, even years,” Andrew Malekoff, CEO of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center said.

Malekoff added the shortage means many families are giving up. Some are enrolling in a “clinics” that lack in privacy or – in Jenna Kern-Rugile’s case – footing the bill for each 45-minute session.

“It was $500 a visit, I was not doing well, I was desperate, but I was willing to pay that because I was desperate… Out of pocket and I wasn’t working because of the depression,” Kern-Rugile explained.

Ninety percent of primary care physicians reportedly accept insurance, but only 55 percent of psychiatrists accept insurance because of the low reimbursement rates.

Fewer and fewer medical students are reportedly going into the field of psychiatry. (Credit: CBS2)

“We are seeing a lot of kids coming in with anxiety depression being diagnosed with ADHD,” Dr. Michele Reed said.

Yet the family practitioner added that she struggles to find psychiatrists for her young patients.

“It’s devastating. Three of the highest burden illnesses for children (are) depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia. Those are the kind of things child psychiatrists treat and there just aren’t enough of us,” psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Perret said.

Major health systems on Long Island are trying to make “behavioral health care” more accessible; placing mental health experts into family care settings where insurance is accepted.

“The last thing you need is to be turned away when you’re calling for help,” Kern-Rugile said.

Experts say medical schools need to graduate 30 percent more students in psychiatric medicine to meet the current demand.

Comments (7)
  1. Jason Ledd says:

    Depression is caused by mercury. Chelation is correct solution, use Andrew Cutler protocol only.

  2. dunderberg says:

    No raises in at least thirty years… How can a young doctor pay off medical school bills on that?

  3. Mental health crisis (void & confusion) is caused by not correctly understanding and applying 4-layer spiritual (bible) wisdom no godless shrink can ‘cure’.

  4. Ronald Roman says:

    No, it’s good news! Less shrinks, LESS mental disease. They are the ones inventing and/or maintaining 50% of it.

    1. David Maxwell says:

      Precisely Ronald, and laughing all the way to the bank.

  5. The shortage may not be psychiatrists but too many people with Trump Derangement Syndrome. Lib/Prog Democrats are bt definition insane.

    1. John Bradford says:

      Yes, there was definite uptick for psychiatric treatment when Al Gore lost. The Derangement syndrome was already present..

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