I’ve sought out therapy on and off over the last five years, and have had to find a new therapist every time I’ve moved out of state. I used to work with an amazing licensed clinical social worker in Washington, DC who helped me through one of the darkest points of my mental health journey as I struggled to manage depression and PTSD-like trauma responses. But when I moved to Boston in 2019, I had to start the search for a new provider all over again since my therapist wasn’t licensed in Massachusetts — even though I felt like I’d just started making progress.
You’d think at this point I’d have figured out a process for finding the right therapist for me. But each time, I’ve felt unprepared and lost, putting off the time-consuming and demoralizing process of “therapist shopping.”
I sit down at my computer, finally having convinced myself to take a half hour break and start my long procrastinated search for a therapist. I comb through directories far and wide, compiling a list of names and numbers of therapists who take my insurance and sound like nice people (from their bios anyways). Once I’ve compiled 30 names, I decide it’s finally time to start calling down the list. Surely one of the 30 had to work out, right?
I was… very wrong. There was something wrong with each call. Either the therapist didn’t take my insurance anymore, didn’t specialize in the focus area I was looking for, or just didn’t fit my communication style. When I crossed the last name off my list, two hours had gone by, I was still no closer to finding a therapist, and felt worse than I had when I started. Surely finding a therapist couldn’t be this hard?
Unfortunately… it is.
It’s no secret that we’re in a mental health crisis in this country. The number of Americans with mental illness who report that they sought out treatment but were unable to receive it has only worsened over the last decade. Contributing factors include lack of or limited insurance coverage, mental health professional shortages, and lack of available treatment types. And geographic distribution of providers contributes to the challenge: today, roughly half of the country lives in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area.
The prevalence of mental illness is highest among 18–29 year-olds, who reported both the highest rates of anxiety and depression and the greatest unmet need relative to other age demographics throughout the pandemic. And within this population, college students are in an acute crisis: Over 60% of college students met the criteria for one or more mental health problems in 2020–2021 — a nearly 50% increase from 2013. Having just graduated from grad school ourselves, we have felt this pain point acutely.
But there is a huge regulatory shift underway that has potential to unlock access to mental health professionals. Interstate licensure compacts have been developed to allow mental health professionals to practice teletherapy across state lines. A compact for psychologists has been enacted in over 30 states, and compacts for licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers are also in development.
While the fact remains that there is still a shortage of mental health providers relative to demand, increased license portability could reduce the gaps by optimizing existing supply to meet demand at a national level — not on a state-by-state basis. Even among psychologists alone, redistributing supply across current compact states could close gaps in demand by over 50%. This has the added benefit of increasing continuity of care — which we are particularly excited about .
We want to transform the future of teletherapy — one in which fit is the most important factor, not geography.
We’re building the platform we wish we’d had access to in our toughest moments. For patients, it’s time that you are in the driver seat, that you aren’t just assigned a therapist, but that you get to choose. Using your insurance? Great. Paying out of pocket? Fantastic. Want a provider who understands what it’s like to be a first generation college student in the United States? You’re welcome here. We curate a list of providers suited to you, but you always choose.
And for the providers that work hard everyday to help people understand themselves, we want to build the platform that puts you in charge of your interstate practice: so you get to specialize in serving the clients that you’re best suited to work with, and so your practice can move with you — no matter where you live.
As of today, we’re live in 35+ states! If you’re looking for a mental health provider, check us out at www.mindandmatch.com We’re focused on serving college students, but anyone is welcome to join the platform. And if you’re an undergrad or graduate student, we’re recruiting campus ambassadors to help us spread the word! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in bringing Mind & Match to your campus.
And for licensed mental health professionals passionate about expanding into an interstate practice or working with young adults, create your Mind & Match profile at www.mindandmatch.com/providetherapy