Aug 1, 1:24 PM EDT




WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — In light of the recent, dramatic increase in demand for mental health counseling services, psychologists and psychiatrists from Canada, Great Britain, and Australia have agreed to work in the United States through the November election. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” said National Institute of Mental Health Public Health Analyst Martha Plimpton. “Beginning in about March of this year, right after Super Tuesday, the first one, we noticed a slight uptick in new patients. By April, we definitely noticed a trend. By May, the numbers were through the roof.”PSY 2

According to NIM’s statistics, available through June 30, new mental health therapy appointments rose 4800 per cent between February 2016 and the last report. Of those, a Donald Trump victory is noted as the primary reason for seeking therapy. Added Ms. Plimpton, “I truly dread the July numbers after Cleveland. From what I’ve heard, we could see at least a doubling of the June percentage.”

Dr. Franklin Opsano, M.D., an established psychiatrist on Manhattan’s upper east side, explains, “At first I extended my hours until 7 p.m.  Then I started early at 8 a.m. Now I’m seeing patients from 7 in the morning until 10 at night, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner during sessions and my — damn phone won’t stop ringing. If Trump doesn’t lose in November, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.”

“It’s not just New York City, it’s all over the country. Except maybe places like Idaho and Oklahoma,” offers Dr. Michael Rossworg, M.D., PhD, associate professor of cultural psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine’s department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Everyone is overwhelmed, not just psychiatrists and psychologists. Social workers, caregivers, mental health care providers of all kinds, just can’t handle the case loads.”

What about this election is causing people to seek therapy at such increase rates? “Elections often add anxiety to society at large. That’s normal,” Rossworg adds. “Our research indicates that the difference with this election is that it’s not so much about change, or concern with a particular issue, rather there’s an overarching anxiety that a Trump victory will, to put it succinctly, alter the American way of life.”

“Fortunately, our colleagues around the world took notice and offered to help,” explains Sarah Reinhardt, the U.S. Representative to the International Association of Psychiatrists & Psychologists. “We cannot underestimate the importance of ensuring mental health care for all those in need. That’s why we are now working out the details for mental health professionals from Canada, Great Britain and Australia to provide therapy in areas that require immediate assistance to meet the needs of all patients seeking therapy.” Reinhardt explained that the program will hopefully be operational by September 1 at the latest. “The biggest hurdle is licensing. We think we’ve figured that out, but it will take a couple of weeks to perform the necessary paperwork.”

And what about the possibility of a Trump victory? Says Reinhardt, “This is just a guest worker program; it only helps through November. If Trump wins, my guess is we’ll need a lot more than just therapy.”

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