Study: Psychiatric Care Difficult To Find In Boston

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Anyone whose ever had to find a new doctor here in Massachusetts knows that the search can be frustratingly slow and difficult.

More than half of primary care physicians are no longer taking new patients, and if you are lucky enough to get an appointment, the average wait can be as long as seven weeks.

What happens, though, when the person looking for care is someone in the middle of mental health emergency? Well, a new study due out Thursday paints a troubling picture.

In the study, researchers from both the Cambridge Health Alliance and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center made calls to 64 mental health facilities within ten miles of downtown Boston. They posed as patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance — some of the best in the state — and said they were diagnosed with depression at a local emergency room, and told to seek care within two weeks.

In 64 tries just four facilities could take a new patient within two weeks. In 15 cases, researchers left a phone message, but never heard back.

Access to mental health care is what we are talking about today.

Why is it so hard for someone to seek mental health care in Massachusetts, and what, if anything can be done about it?

Dr. Wesley Boyd, co-author of this new study joins us along with Laurie Martinelli of the National Alliance On Mental Illness of Massachusetts.


  • Wesley Boyd, psychiatrist, Cambridge Health Alliance; professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • Laurie Martinelli, executive director, National Alliance On Mental Illness of Massachusetts


This segment aired on July 21, 2011.


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