Chippewa Valley families face long waits for mental health services | news

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – If your family has experienced a long wait for mental health care, you are far from alone. In fact, a psychiatrist with Marshfield Clinic said this has been a huge problem throughout the region.

Patients across the Chippewa Valley and around the United States are experiencing longer wait times for care while therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists face larger case loads.

Marshfield Clinic pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Alison Jones discussed the issue from a mental health care provider’s perspective. She said that the difficulty for mental health care workers in 2022 is that whole families are affected.

dr Jones said it’s easier to treat one person with depression in a household but added that waits for county services, family financial stressors, and schools that are unable to address key issues can affect an entire family.

“We’re seeing more behavioral issues, more depression, more anxiety, and more substance use so when we combine all of those things and we have families seeing this in their households, it raises the stakes,” Dr. Jones said.

She noted that patients in northwestern Wisconsin seeking further evaluations like referrals to specialists or county services are likely experiencing longer wait times than at larger health care systems like Marshfield Clinic.

County services include government-funded programs like crisis services, community programs, and outpatient behavioral health clinics. Jones contributed waits in all areas to higher mental healthcare needs among people of all ages due to the pandemic and a wide array of social issues in recent years.

“We’re seeing younger and younger folks and a wider range of ages and the need for services amongst all of those people,” Dr. Jones said. “I think that’s partially related to COVID and I think that it’s partially related to the social difficulties we’ve had the past couple of years.”

The state of Wisconsin received nearly $50 million in federal funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act for substance use and mental health needs.

Marshfield Clinic officials said they have addressed mental health patient waits within their organization by rethinking patient care and providing programs like career-based online therapy offerings for groups like educators.

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