Economic Downturn Increases Demand for Psychological Services

The economic downturn has led to a spike in the demand for psychological crisis services, according to several sources.

In New York, calls to Hopeline, a telephone crisis service for people experiencing severe depression, increased by about 75% between the summer of 2007 and the summer of 2008. Hopeline received a record 10,368 calls in July of this year, and expects a continued climb as the economy worsens. The incumbent potential damage to self-esteem, hopefulness, relaxation, and other areas of ego, strength, and functionality also increase nationwide.

Meanwhile, the ComPsych Corporation of Chicago, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance, saw an increase of 21% in stress-related requests for services in that same one-year period. Elsewhere, hospital admissions for psychiatric services are up 10%, according to UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest health insurance company in the United States. Richard Chaifetz, CEO of ComPsych, reported that “the 9/11 spike was probably higher initially, but this has been more sustained.”

A poll conducted this past spring by the American Psychological Association found that 75% of Americans report stress due to financial problems. A similar poll one year ago put the number at half of the respondents, who said financial stress is hurting their professional and personal lives. “We’ve reached a tipping point where anxiety about the economy is pervasive,’ said Dan Abrahamson, an executive at APA. “The stresses and anxieties are there all the time; you can’t get them out of your mind.’

Therapists should be aware that all clients are likely to experience an increase in stress during a recession, even those with steady incomes and strong assets.

© Copyright 2008 by Daniel Brezenoff, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • John

    September 27th, 2008 at 1:13 AM

    I changed my career 5 years ago and am in middle management. Every morning as i knot my tie i worry if the pink slip awaits me. my wife is so frustrated with me i’m scared shes gonna wwant a divorce. We dont do anything together as I work 24/7 doing two jobs.

  • Nikki

    September 28th, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    This economic slump is hitting everyone so hard it is no wonder that there is an upswing in the numbers looking for psychological services. I too live in fear everyday of losing my job as I work for a small business that has definitely felt the economic crunch. I count my blessings every day that I still have my job and a way to provide for my family and I must admit this is a bit unsettling because I never thought something like this was anything my generation would ever have to worry about.

  • Robyn E

    September 28th, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    It is inevitable that this would cause an increase in the nedd for services. People are losing everything, including their minds, with the increasing prices!

  • Lisa Brookes Kift

    September 28th, 2008 at 8:15 PM

    Great information – and unfortunately not suprising. Any therapists plan to lower their fees to accomodate the increased financial strain?

  • Spence

    September 29th, 2008 at 3:23 AM

    I wonder if more companies who are having to let people go are providing the funding for their employees to seek counseling or if the employees are having to use their own income for this. Their health coverage will probably last them a while after they leave the company but I would suspect not for very long and then the cost will have to paid out of pocket. In this economy how long do you suppose it will be before people decide this is another expense that they cannot manage to pay and will let their own health fall to the wayside just to pay their other bills?

  • Brian

    September 29th, 2008 at 3:01 PM

    All this seems to be only from the view of the employee. If you are in the unenviable position of the employer and have to give the boot to fellow colleagues who might be your friends at work, that is terrible!!! I am doing exactly that and haven’t slept for many days now. I am considering therapy, as I had to sack my friend who has just got a baby and I dont think I am going to be able to deal with all that by myself.

  • Crossman

    September 30th, 2008 at 2:57 AM

    Won’t be long. Folks can barely pay their other bills much less additional medical bills. This is a time when the government is going to have to intervene, either on the local or state level, to make sure that practices and procedures remain up to par.

  • David

    October 2nd, 2008 at 1:12 PM

    I am not sure that I agree with that. There are some things that the federal and even local level governments just should not intervene in and I happen to think that this is one of those areas. I think that there are enough community services and resources that can assure that people continue to get the level of care that they need during a mental health crisis. I do not mena to make this political but the government is not the fix for everything.

  • Norma

    October 6th, 2008 at 3:33 AM

    I hate to think that a poor economy will be what it takes for people to seek treatment but perhaps this is what will put these mental health pros in the spotlight and let others see the good they can do for thos in need.

  • Barbara

    October 16th, 2008 at 3:03 AM

    I suspect this is only getting worse by the minute as the stock market continues to tank on an almost daily basis. . .

  • Donna

    October 27th, 2008 at 8:21 PM

    Yeah but are those who really need help being given the tools to find the help that they need?

  • Steve

    November 16th, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    Unfortunately I think the answer to the last question is no. I think that too many times in this treatment system people are shuffled and referred from resource to resource with little to no real help being issued. It is the people who get caught up in this stranglehold of the public system who really do suffer. There are so many things going on in this country today that I am sure there are many services which are being pushed to their absolute limits if not cut altogether. People are hurting all across the board which in turn makes the demand for services even greater. Our mental health system and overall economy are going to take years to recover from the abuses it has seen over the past several years.

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