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How Long Is Too Long To Wait For Mental Health Treatment?

Family says backlogs force them to wait close to a year to see specialists

Can you imagine waiting almost a year to see a doctor? A mental health doctor? That’s a reality for some people living in Southwest Florida, and it may get worse.

The 2017 Health Equity report says by 2025 the US will have a shortage of nearly 17 thousand mental health and substance abuse social workers.

“It takes almost 10 months to see a neurologist. We just saw her two weeks ago. She wanted to see us in four months which would have been like august, her next availability wasn’t until like February,” said Lea Williams.

Williams’ son Taaj suffers from ADHD and possibly Aspergers. She’s still waiting to hear the final diagnosis for her son. She’s afraid of what could happen if he doesn’t get the treatment he needs.

“You would never think one day your child’s going to turn around and threaten your life. I hope I never have to deal with that,” she said.

Mental Health America ranks Florida as one of the worst in the country when it comes to access to mental health care. For Lea and her family that could mean life or death.

“At the end of the day, when special needs people get in trouble, what do the cops do? They don’t care, they don’t. They do not care what you have going on,” said Williams

She also thinks families like hers are more common than you think.

“This I think is more the norm. I mean I can name at least 10 friends off the top of my head that have kids with some type of disability. Some kind of, either ADHD or sensory processing disorder. I have in my family severe autism, I think it’s becoming the norm.”