Shield Bearer Counseling Center Director Explains Mental Health Care Crisis

Thad Cardine updated the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce on how the pandemic has pushed the mental health crisis to a head. (Mikah Boyd/Community Impact Journal)

Mental health issues have been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic due to rising health care costs and insurance companies not covering therapy or counseling for many people across the country, according to Thad. Cardine, executive director of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers.

Cardine gave a presentation at the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce on April 7 about the region’s mental health crisis and how it has been exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdowns.

According to Cardine’s presentation, approximately 5.8 million Texans suffer from mental illness and the state has six suicides a day and 30 suicide-related hospitalizations.

“Each year, millions of Americans with mental illness struggle to find care; nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health issues in the United States will go without any treatment,” Cardine said.

He said many Texans don’t seek or receive help with their mental health because of the many barriers they face after reaching out. Some of the barriers identified by Shield Bearer include high session fees, reimbursable fees, lack of providers, providers not accepting new clients, lack of insurance, lack of appropriate counselors available for specific conditions , therapists not covered, private rate providers and providers not accepting insurance.

Telehealth, hotlines and other issues

To alleviate some of these issues, telehealth has become an option during the pandemic and has been shown to help people with less severe mental health issues. Cardine said these services are useful at the moment, but the commercialized telecounseling industry cannot meet patient needs due to lack of resources and community connections.

Shield Bearer also recently tested various suicide hotline numbers and found that they had an average wait time of 25 minutes, according to Cardine. The group tried the hotlines in an attempt to gauge how quickly people in crisis received help since Shield Bearer does not currently provide crisis services and hoped to learn more about how the crisis lines work. connect to people in need.

These services are becoming more essential and busier as the mental health epidemic rages on.

“Those who have seriously considered attempting suicide also increase by 36%,” Cardine said. “Last year we treated 355 people with suicidal thoughts.”

Cardine said Shield Bearer has identified several areas that need more attention, including routine market audits, increased patient reimbursement rates, telehealth-matching reimbursement rates, easier access to funding for nonprofit community organizations, prioritizing child and family mental health, and increasing the number of licensed behavioral health professionals.

Other issues he would like to see addressed include the expansion of pediatric mental health care; providing training in marital, family and parenting skills; and expanding access to support groups.

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