The following is an article written by Dr. Wakim, Chief Medical Officer at Transformations Care Network.
By: Ryan J. Wakim, MD
According to a recent Gallup poll, American’s positive self-assessments of their mental health are the lowest in more than two decades. In West Virginia – a ruggedly rural state with an independent spirit – mental health woes are fueled by social problems and a shortage of providers. In February 2021, nearly 42 percent of adults in West Virginia reported symptoms of anxiety or depression and more than 22 percent were unable to get an appointment with a mental health professional. The numbers are even more bleak for young people. Over 55 percent of West Virginians between the ages of 12 and 17 who have depression did not receive any care in 2021.
As a psychiatrist, I know firsthand that cost and an inability to find a mental health professional who is covered by insurance are major barriers to accessing care. While the problem is most acute in the hinterlands, even larger West Virginia cities are dealing with it. Of the 92,000 adults in West Virginia who did not receive needed mental health care in 2021, almost 48 percent did not because of cost. West Virginians are over two times more likely to be forced out-of-network for mental health care than for primary health care – making it more difficult to find care and less affordable due to higher out-of-pocket costs.
When access to mental health care is out of reach, there are real consequences. Unaddressed mental health problems can have a negative influence on homelessness, poverty, employment, safety, and the local economy. They may impact the productivity of local businesses, impede the ability of children and youth to succeed in school, and lead to family and community disruption. Over 25 percent of the unsheltered people in West Virginia are living with a serious mental illness. Even more alarming, seven in ten youth in the juvenile justice system in our state have a mental health condition. While the poor are at the biggest disadvantage, this is a problem across demographics.
Access to high-quality mental health care is directly linked to better physical health and better health outcomes. That’s why Harmony, a member of Transformations Care Network, is focused on increasing access to mental health care services throughout West Virginia. Harmony is a network of outpatient practices that are committed to providing access to high-quality mental health services through a combination of in-person and telehealth treatment. Harmony accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare, and nearly all commercial insurances. Harmony also offers a full suite of services to children, adolescents, and adults. Serves include therapy, psychiatry and medication management, and addiction treatment. Finally, Harmony offers interventional psychiatry options like TMS and Ketamine.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony / Open House
On January 19, Harmony is proud to be opening its newest outpatient mental health clinic at 1 Kenton Drive in Charleston. For more information or to book an appointment, visit www.tinyurl.com/HarmonyMH or call (304) 935-5954.
Dr. Ryan Wakim is the Chief Medical Officer at Transformations Care Network. He is a board-certified psychiatrist and entrepreneur, driven early in his career to expand access to life-changing behavioral health care with a passion for and expertise in the subspecialty of interventional psychiatry. Wakim was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, completed his undergraduate education at Wheeling Jesuit University, and completed his primary medical education and residency as chief resident of psychiatry at West Virginia University.