How Locum Tenens Bridges the Mental Health Care Gap

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Listen to Amy Gentile’s interview

As the nationwide physician shortage increases, coupled with growing public awareness of available mental health services, medical facilities across the country struggle to maintain enough psychiatrists to provide timely care for all prospective patients. For many patients, this often means waiting months for appointments—or even going completely without mental health care—due to a complete lack of nearby psychiatrists who will accept new patients. As part of our mission to increase access to mental health care across the country, Consilium’s behavioral health division connects these understaffed mental health facilities with quality psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

FACT: Nearly one in five American adults will experience mental illness in any given year, yet only 40% receive treatment for that illness. [1,2]

To commemorate Mental Health Month, we spoke with Amy Gentile—partner and regional vice president of Consilium’s behavioral health division—about her experience in social work and the importance of providing accessible mental health services.

Talk a little bit about how you came to be so passionate about your work in behavioral health.

My schooling was in social work and I did all my work in drug and alcohol treatment centers. I did a lot of work in mental health as I worked alongside a psychiatrist. A lot of the drug and alcohol patients that were in the treatment centers also had dual diagnoses where they also had mental health illnesses. I got to work with those patients firsthand and see how important it was that they had their medications, therapy, and access to psychiatrists. Not to mention that I have some personal experience with family members who have dealt with mental illness, primarily depression. I’ve seen how important it is that they also had access to psychiatrists and medication.

FACT: Nearly 8 million adults in the United States have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.[2]

When the opportunity arose for me to work in behavioral health in the locums industry, I thought it was a perfect fit for me because not only did I understand psychiatry—and the buzzwords and everything else—I was also just very passionate about making sure patients had mental health care. I know how important it is, professionally and personally.

How does Consilium fit into your mission to improve access to mental health services?

Just the idea that we have the opportunity to affect patient lives every single day. It’s the fact that with every phone call that I make, I have the opportunity to put a doctor into a facility. One more patient could be seen because I made a phone call, because someone gave us the opportunity to work on a job for them when they’re short-staffed for one reason or another. We’re affecting patient lives. We could be saving somebody’s life because we put a doctor in there—that’s huge to me.

FACT: 90% of those who die by suicide have symptoms of an underlying mental illness.[3]

The fact of the matter is that without locum tenens, a lot of patients wouldn’t be seen. They can go for months on waiting lists. I talk to facilities all the time that have one-, two-, three-month waiting lists for these patients. They’re backed up even to do evaluations and see what medications these people need to be on. What if they don’t get their medications—what’s next for them? Are they going to end up on the streets, are they going to end up in jail, are they going to end up worse? It can be a really sad situation. There’s a real need for doctors to be able to get in there and see these patients on a locums basis. Facilities can only go so long without coverage. They need to have coverage, period.

FACT: An estimated 50-75% of adolescents in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental illness.[4]

So even though you’re out of the social work field, you’re able to make an impact in an area that’s very important to you.

Absolutely. It’s near and dear to my heart for a lot of reasons that I mentioned. Even when counseling, just having a parent thank you for helping their child when they feel like you made a difference in their kid’s life. They feel like they’re connecting with their child again because their child is making an effort not to drink or take drugs, they’re getting help on the mental health side, they’re taking their medication—they’re doing what they’re supposed to do in all aspects. They’re going to their AA meetings and they’re seeing their psychiatrist and they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing; that’s a big deal.

FACT: 37% of students ages 14+ who have a mental health condition will drop out of school.[5]

On the professional side, when you have a client who is just so elated with their psychiatrist—especially when they went for quite a while without one and they needed one badly— and they’re so happy with the one you put in there for months and months and months… They’re just so grateful and appreciative, and it makes you feel good. It makes you feel good that our team did such a good job to get somebody in there because they’re so happy and you know that their patients are being seen. It makes you feel good that we worked as a team and got someone in there for them.

FACT: Consilium puts mental health professionals in positions to save lives.

Interested in providing mental health care with one of our clients or in finding psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners to see patients at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696 or fill out our convenient online form.

 

Sources

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  3. American Psychological Association. Teen Suicide is Preventable.
  4. Underwood, L., & Washington, A. (2016). Mental Illness and Juvenile Offenders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(2), 228.
  5. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health Facts: Children and Teens.

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