The American Psychological Association (APA) released the results of its third annual Practitioner Pulse Survey in early December 2023. The 2023 survey reports on data collected from 561 mental healthcare providers in the US. The APA placed a strong focus on the changes in mental healthcare needs, especially between 2022 and 2023. As the need for care increases, workload and risk of burn-out become an increasing concern for care providers.

Mental healthcare providers responded to questions about both the quality and quantity of mental healthcare needs. When asked if treatment length increased in 2023, 41% of providers agreed. A similar trend was seen in clinical severity, with 52% of providers agreeing that they have seen an increase in symptom severity in 2023.  

This combination of increased clinical severity and treatment length may be contributing factors to the increased workload experienced by providers. When asked about trends during 2023, 26% of providers experienced an increase in workload, 26% experienced an increased number of patients, and 38% of providers had a longer waiting list than in 2022. According to the providers with a waiting list, 69% of patients experience up to a three-month wait and 31% of patients wait longer than three months for care.

36% of respondents reported feeling burned out

This combination of increased severity and treatment length may be contributing factors to the increased workload experienced by providers. Responding providers reported an increased number of patients with anxiety disorder (68% of providers), trauma and stress disorders (50% of providers), sleep-wake disorder (46% of providers), substance use disorder (44% of providers), depressive disorder (44% of providers), neurocognitive disorders (30% of providers), obsessive-compulsive disorders (29% of providers) and persistent severe mental illness (26% of providers).

With this increased workload, the Practitioner Pulse Survey noted that there is a risk of burnout in the mental healthcare profession. 36% of respondents reported feeling burned out when asked – an improvement from 2021 (47%), but not ideal. To combat burnout, most (73%) of respondents practice self-care, maintain work-life balance (63% of respondents), and seek help to manage burnout (49% of respondents).

GlobalData epidemiologists estimate that in the US in 2023, there will be 13 million lifetime total prevalent cases of bipolar disorder, 27.5 million 12-month total prevalent cases of major depressive disorder, 2 million 12-month total prevalent cases of opioid use disorder and 12 million 12-month total prevalent cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. These figures may be affected by the Covid–19 pandemic, and add increased pressure to the mental healthcare system. Increased support for patients alongside provider visits and increased support for mental healthcare providers is the most effective way to sustain care under these circumstances.

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