Kaiser Therapists, Patients Allege Long Waits for Mental Health Care

Kaiser Permanente’s newly opened medical center in Oakland. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)
Kaiser Permanente’s newly opened medical center in Oakland. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED) (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

One month, three months, even five months.

That's how long some Northern California Kaiser patients wait to see an individual therapist -- according to many Kaiser patients and therapists.

KQED's Jon Brooks has reported extensively on this issue over the last two months. He talked to close to two dozen therapists and patients who said that they were experiencing long wait times. One therapist whose specialty is geriatric care told him that she had written to her superiors saying, "I can't tell a patient that has six months to live that I'll see them in five months."

Kaiser maintains that patients do have access to therapy, that it has 14 percent more therapists now than three years ago, and that therapists need to work with patients to ensure patients get the care they need.

KQED News anchor Mina Kim interviewed Brooks Monday evening about the questions surrounding Kaiser and its mental health services:

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Earlier this month, Brooks reported that a Sonoma County Supervisor whose husband had committed suicide while in Kaiser's care had taken a public stance on the issue of waiting times.

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