Vol. 1, No. 3: March 22, 2022
Dear <<First Name>>,

Thank you for being part of our movement to increase access to mental healthcare in the U.S! 

In this month's newsletter, learn why the therapist shortage makes our approach so critical, see a very exciting update about our org's legal status, get to know a member of our team, and see region-based updates on our directory's growth.

If you were forwarded this newsletter, please subscribe here.


Getting Real About the Therapist Shortage


For the past few years, we’ve seen billions of dollars poured into digital mental health companies, including gig therapy platforms like Talkspace and BetterHelp. And yet, despite so much investment, these companies have failed to address a fundamental issue: we don’t have enough therapists. 

Fortunately, there's now a federal strategy to resolve the provider shortage as part of President Biden’s plan to address the nation’s mental health crisis. It’s about time an issue as complex as this one receives federal attention and strategic investment. 

Let’s break down what it means when we talk about a therapist shortage, and why we believe non-therapy alternatives must be part of the strategy to address it.


There aren’t enough therapists period

How many therapists do we currently have, and how many more do we need? These questions are frustratingly difficult to answer because we don’t have the right data.

Here’s some preliminary numbers.

In the US, there are about 106,000 clinical psychologists, 250,000 clinical social workers, 120,000 licensed counselors, and 50,000 marriage and family therapists. That’s about 530,000 therapists for a population of 330,000,000. 

Mental Health America’s Access to Care tool provides the ratio of mental health providers (including psychiatric) to residents by state. We can see that the concentration (and shortage) of providers varies dramatically across states. Among our target regions, the best ratio is in Washington, DC (190:1) and the worst is in Pennsylvania (450:1). In general, rural areas have a worse shortage of mental health providers.

Using various care models to guide their calculations, SAMHSA estimates that we are about 1.8 million therapists short of what’s needed to effectively treat serious mental illness and substance use disorders. On the other hand, using different methodology, HRSA estimates a shortage of about 238,000 therapists by 2025.

There aren’t enough therapists who accept insurance

The therapist shortage is felt even more acutely when help-seekers search for providers who accept insurance. 

For very valid reasons, like low reimbursement rates and burdensome paperwork, many therapists do not accept insurance. A survey of 1,800 therapists in California found that 42% of therapists chose not to join any insurance network. 

As a result, adult patients are 540% more likely, and children 1000% more likely, to pay out of pocket for a mental health visit compared to primary care. 

The many help-seekers who can't afford hundreds of dollars per month in therapy fees are forced to compete with each other for the therapists who accept insurance. 

There aren’t enough therapists with the necessary training

Not all therapists are trained to work with all populations or conditions, further narrowing the available provider pool for certain help-seekers.

Graduate school programs often do not train therapists to be competent or comfortable with treating particular conditions, such as eating disorders, autism, substance use disorders, and serious mental illness

We also don't have enough therapists who are competent in working with people of color. Only 12% of licensed psychologists and less than 20% of clinical social workers are people of color. Almost half of psychologists report feeling less than well prepared to provide services to culturally diverse patients. When it comes to providing therapy in a language other than English, few therapists are able to do so. 

So what do we do?

Clearly, the therapist shortage is a problem that can’t be fixed overnight. The solutions proposed by the Biden-Harris administration are an excellent place to start, along with improvements to insurance reimbursement rates and therapist training. 

Therapy4thePeople offers another solution: connect help-seekers to non-therapy mental health support. 

Support groups, chat services, guided self-help, and other affordable types of support in our directory provide psychoeducation, coping skills, social connections, and practical support. These resources can be especially helpful as preventative interventions for individuals with lower levels of distress who do not yet meet full criteria for a mental health condition. Non-therapy forms of support are often free, grassroots, and developed by people with lived experience. 

Our directory is the only place where help-seekers can find all of these resources, along with affordable therapy.

As mental health advocates committed to increasing access to mental healthcare, we have an ethical obligation to think outside the box. The realities of our current mental health system force us to do so. 

Thank you for supporting us in this work. 


As a subscriber, you get access to Progress Notes a week before it goes live on our website.

Please give us your feedback. You can reach us via social media or email us at


  • Our directory of affordable mental health services is growing weekly thanks to our incredible team of Regional Ambassadors! Check out how many resources we currently have in each region.
  • We are now officially a registered nonprofit as Therapy4thePeople, Inc.! Thank you to the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP for providing pro bono legal services to help us incorporate in the state of Delaware. They will also help us obtain 501c3 tax-exempt status. Your donations are helping us pay all of the fees that come with this process. Thank you for helping us achieve this milestone!
  • Our homepage has undergone a small redesign to make it easier for help-seekers to find all resources in their local region. All you have to do is click on the region's image. With the prevalence of telehealth, help-seekers will be able to find resources that they're still eligible for even though they aren't near them geographically.


  • We have a new Quick Submission Form for affordable mental health services! If you come across a service that is affordable and fits within our regions (or is nationally available) please take a quick minute to share with our team so we can review and add it to our directory.
  • The link to our Quick Submission Form, as well as our directory homepage, donation page, newsletter signup page, and our social media profiles are all now in one place: our linktree! Feel free to share this link with colleagues and help-seekers.


Monica Estrada
What is your current role at Therapy4thePeople?

As the Regional Ambassador for the Chicago area, I seek and upload new mental health resources to our ever-growing directory each week. I have uploaded over 120 listings to the Chicagoland area over the past four months since the Regional Ambassadors Program began and I’m excited to continue finding mental health resources that are affordable, culturally-informed, and evidence-based. I’m incredibly proud of being part of a hard-working team and seeing the work that we have put towards expanding our directory over a short period of time. I look forward to continue growing as a team and seeing our major goals of connecting help-seekers to affordable mental health services, educating help-seekers, and building local relationships with service providers grow into fruition.

What's something special about your region that other people may not know?

This past summer (August 25th, 2021), Governor JB Pritzker signed into law House Bills 2565 and 2784, known as The Community Emergency Services Support Act (also known as the Stephon Edwards Watts Act) in the state of Illinois. House Bill 2565 requires all insurances cover medically necessary mental healthcare beginning January 1st, 2023. House Bill 2784 was named after Stephon Edward Watts, a 15-year-old boy who had autism and was murdered by police officers in his home in Calumet City (a suburb of Chicago) in February 2012 when his family had to call 911 to get help with his outbursts. There will now be a first-responder system that coordinates 911 and 988 emergency responses to reduce the arrests of neuro-divergent individuals and those with mental illnesses and provide specialist interventions rather than police involvement. [Source:]

What motivated you to join Therapy4thePeople?

I joined Therapy4thePeople because I wanted to find a way to help make mental health resources more accessible to people of color in Chicago, which was an especially difficult goal to accomplish considering we are in a pandemic. In conversations with friends and family, I realized that those who are open to the idea of going to therapy often have the same lingering questions: Where do I start? Where should I go? Who can I talk to? When I found Therapy4thePeople, I saw the opportunity to build upon my knowledge of the mental health services available in the city and to increase psychoeducation to eliminate stigma, make known affordable service options through our directory, and identify the evidence-based mental health resources that Chicago/Chicagoland area has to offer. As we overcome this pandemic, I’m happy to be making new connections and working hands-on to make mental health services more accessible.

Where are you currently in your career, and where do you hope to go?

Currently, I am a research study coordinator at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where I collaborate with others passionate about research in social sciences and use patient-reported outcomes (i.e. depression, anxiety, physical function) to monitor care quality and enhance the quality of life of a range of patient populations. Looking forward, I hope to be a graduate student in a Clinical Psychology PhD program to study the socioemotional and academic implications of intergenerational trauma among youth.


Our blog guides help-seekers in navigating the complex mental health system to get the care they need. Our most recent post:

Have ideas for future topics? Want to collaborate on a post? Reach out to us here.
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