When Pat Paulson’s son told her he was feeling anxious and depressed at college, Paulson went through her Blue Cross Blue Shield provider directory and started calling mental health therapists. No providers in the Wisconsin city where her son’s university is located had openings. So she bought a monthly subscription to BetterHelp, a Mountain View, California, company that links people to therapists online.
Her son felt uncomfortable with his first BetterHelp therapist. After waiting several weeks, he saw a second therapist, whom he liked. But she wasn’t available the following week.
Despite the switch and the wait, Paulson is grateful she was able to find her son help. “He was getting to the point where he was ready to give up trying to find someone,” she said.
Many U.S. adults aren’t able to find help because of a shortage of therapists. Nearly 40% are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.