By Debra Wood, RN, contributor May 24, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s anxiety and
depressive symptoms, raising demand for permanent practitioners and locum
tenens to fill behavioral health jobs.
“Since COVID hit, there’s been a shift in our
need for psychology coverage all over the United States,” said Ashley Whitmore, a senior recruiting consultant with Staff Care. “Psychiatrists are still in demand, and that
will never go away.”
Kéary Gauff, who is also a senior
recruiting consultant in behavioral health with Staff Care, anticipates that the
need for psychiatrists and psychologists will grow even more over the next six
to 12 months as people continue to struggle with pandemic-related issues.
“People are stressed out
and short-tempered,” Gauff said. “I’m starting to see a rise in the need for
counseling and therapy.”
The data on how people are
The American Psychiatric
Association recently released a public opinion poll,
which found 43 percent said the pandemic had a serious effect on their mental
health and 41 percent of Americans indicating they are more anxious than last
“Across different research sources, we
are seeing a pattern emerging,” said Vaile Wright, PhD, senior director for health care innovation the American
Psychological Association (APA). “Data from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, the Kaiser Family Foundation and from us at APA are all seeing
increases in depression, anxiety, trauma-related symptoms, alcohol intake and
The amount of anxiety and mental health
concerns are similar across multiple studies. In April 2021, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention reported that 41.5 percent of people were suffering from
anxiety or a depressive disorder. And the Kaiser Family
reported in February that 41 percent of American adults were experiencing an
anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder, up from 11 percent in 2019.
Psychological Association (APA) reported in November 2020 that 29 percent
of its members surveyed reported an increase in patients since the pandemic
began. Seventy-four percent indicated patients were experiencing anxiety, 60
percent depressive disorders and 51 percent trauma and stress-related
COVID, people are staying home and not dealing well,” Whitmore said. “They need
therapy and someone to talk to.”
Crisis stoking greater demand for behavioral health jobs
The increase in people dealing with anxiety
and depression and a decrease in stigma associated with seeking mental health help
have led to organizations bringing on more mental health professionals.
Younger people seem more willing to seek
treatment than older adults, but cost remains a barrier to care, Wright said.
For instance, when the census increased at
Behavioral Health Center Westchester Square, an outpatient facility in Bronx,
New York, they hired more mental health clinicians to meet the growing demand
of people in crisis, reported Adam McGahee, DNP, MBA, associate clinical
director of the treatment facility.
The country has been dealing with a shortage
of psychiatrists for a number of years. In 2018, the National
Council Medical Director Institute updated a report about the shortage of psychiatrists
and how that has limited access to care.
Hawkins’ “2020 Review of Physician and
Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives and the Impact of COVID-19” reported psychiatry has
been the second most requested physician search for the past five years. The
authors also stated, “Maintaining
and expanding access to psychiatric services will be one of the primary
challenges facing healthcare policy makers and providers in the post-COVID-19
Access to care has been a long-standing problem, Wright
said. She encourages prevention measures to reduce the demand for services.
“We do not have enough providers for the traditional
60-minute psychotherapy sessions,” Wright said. “And not everyone can afford
Telemedicine altering psychology and psychiatry jobs
telemedicine visits can help to meet the demand for behavioral health services,
and have been a necessity in some cases during the pandemic.
percent of psychologists surveyed by the APA indicated they were treating
patients remotely, with 64 percent exclusively providing telemedical care. A
third of the APA respondents said they were treating patients who live in a
different state than where they practice.
demand has grown for both psychiatry and psychology,” Whitmore said. “A lot of our providers love it.”
Wright added that some insurers waved co-pays during the pandemic and
others offered reduced fees, leading to a greater use of telemedicine, which
will continue if patients continue to request televisits and if copays and
other measures continue to be waived.
Locum tenens providers filling the need
Whitmore anticipates the demand for psychology
and psychiatry jobs will grow. She reported some behavioral medicine providers
are leaving their private practices to eliminate overhead and earn more as a
locum tenens psychologist or locum tenens psychiatrist.
Other psychologists and psychiatrists
work locum tenens part-time while retaining a practice or a full-time
behavioral health job, Gauff said.
Whitmore also reported an increased need for behavioral
health providers who are comfortable dealing with addictions and locum tenens psychiatrists
who can prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone), and for clinicians who can work
with children and adolescents.
Wright also noted an increased need among children and
adolescents. She encouraged the industry to find ways to reach people where
they are at.
Staff Care assists with licensing
psychologists and psychiatrists in states needing locum tenens providers, and
deploys creative measures to recruit new candidates.
do not see the demand going away,” Whitmore said.
STAFF CARE has locum psychiatry jobs and locum psychology jobs across the U.S.
Contact a Recruiter Now