DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Areinia Adams often sees patients for anxiety and depression, but she said the pandemic exacerbated things, which has created a dire need for those seeking help.
"Stacked. Every single time I talk to someone I tell them my schedule is so stacked," said Adams. "Right now I can honestly say I am booked all the way through September. The middle of September actually."
Mental healthcare deserts develop when there are few trained professionals available to give quality care. It's something Adams, a Raleigh therapist who runs Purpose and Peace Therapeutic Care, sees first-hand.
"We've seen so many people who are so desperate. They will wait months and months until you can get them in," she said.
In Wake County, there are about 126 providers for every 100,000 residents. The current population is one million residents meaning there are more than a thousand providers there.
In Durham County, there are 233 providers for every 100,000 residents. The current population is 317,000, which means there are 700 providers.
In Cumberland County, there are about 131 providers for every 100,000 residents. The current population is 334,000. That's a little more than 400 providers countywide.
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ABC11 found the most alarming numbers in Sampson County where there are only 17 providers for the entire county which has a population of 63,000.
"The consequences of not addressing mental health needs can be really devastating," said Dr. Gary Maslow, a Duke University Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "If we had timely mental health interventions, we would be able to help children and adults as opposed to continue in a spiral where they could end up in crisis."
Maslow said universities should consider recruiting more students to go into the industry and even giving them a break on tuition to help other therapists.