While I concur with what my colleague Dr. Marnin E. Fischbach wrote in his March 23 Forum article (“The Importance of Psychiatry”), I contend there remains an important missing aspect. Given the current shortage of professionals, what can be done to enhance the quality of our existing services? As a clinical psychologist in private practice for more than 22 years, I have found that when professionals work together as a team, the services provided are tremendously enhanced. My own staff consists of psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric social workers. While not one (individual) professional or profession can adequately provide a complete and comprehensive mental health treatment plan to every patient, whenever professionals collaborate and consequently work for what is in the best interest of the patient, the overall quality of care given is significantly enhanced.
Quite frankly, there will always be a shortage of mental health professionals. Awareness of this factor will facilitate the process of changing its current status. This shortage, however, does not have to mean there is a shortage in the quality of care being given. By mental health professionals collaborating and interacting more with each other, we become better informed as to what services do exist for our patients and what professionals are available to perform them.
As a career, providing mental health treatment can be so rewarding. There is nothing more validating than to be told by a patient at the conclusion of treatment, “Thank you for saving my life.” At that moment, you know you provided the best of what you possibly could. You achieved the ultimate goal of what was in the best interest of the patient.
RICHARD G. FREY, Ph.D.
Cranberry Psychological Center Inc.