Finding a San Diego Psychiatrist Is Becoming Easier

As with the rest of the United States, finding a San Diego psychiatrist has too long been a confusing, time-consuming process. With rates of mental illness rising around the country, San Diego is working towards making mental health treatment accessible to all.

San Diego Psychiatrist: Highlights

  • 9% of adults in San Diego report experience serious psychiatric distress every year, while around the same number suffer from substance use disorders
  • For San Diego’s young people, between the ages of 15 and 24, 16% experience serious psychiatric distress
  • Finding a San Diego psychiatrist has long been a difficult, costly process, with long waiting lists, unexpected copayments and deductibles, and confusion over where to look all adding to a patient’s distress
  • Psychiatric hospitals are now receiving better funding and are starting to provide more comprehensive services, with space to accommodate more patients
  • With institutions like North County Health Services (NCHS) and the Health and Human Services Agency, among others, serving patients who are struggling with funding in San Diego, the outlook looks brighter than just a few years ago

Is San Diego Serious About Psychiatric Care?

Having increased the budget for behavioral health or psychiatric care by over $200 million over the past four years, San Diego appears serious about improving levels of mental health care. The county has increased the number of first responders, as well as the services available at psychiatric institutions.

San Diego residents who are low-income, unemployed, or homeless, and have no insurance, are receiving funding for psychiatric care from the county. The aim is to improve access to mental health care from the first incidence of an illness.

San Diego psychiatrists and other mental health professionals hope to raise awareness of mental health conditions and their treatments, so that those suffering know to ask for help and how to get it.

How Can Mental Health Professionals in San Diego Help You?

San Diego psychiatrists and mental health professionals can help you with issues ranging from anxiety disorders to severe mood and thought disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Your first port of call is usually a session with a San Diego psychiatrist, who will provide an assessment and prescribe medication as part of a treatment plan. They will refer you to other mental health professionals, such as therapists and social workers, who will help you meet your treatment goals.

Why Should People Get Treatment for Mental Health Issues?

Mental health issues are as serious as any other types of health issues. All mental illnesses have a physical component as well, and without adequate treatment, full recovery is difficult and unlikely.

With therapy, and possibly medication, you will be able to reduce your symptoms and begin to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

If you have a mental illness that is making it impossible for you to function on a daily basis, hospitalization can give you the time and space you need to recover and learn to manage the illness.

What Makes Psychiatrists Different From Other Mental Health Professionals?

Unlike most other mental health professionals, psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and are trained as doctors.

Psychiatric Care

Psychiatric care begins with your first session. The psychiatrist will assess you and provide a diagnosis, along with a treatment plan. They may also recommend hospitalization or inpatient treatment when they deem it necessary for recovery.

Medication Management

You will continue to see a San Diego psychiatrist for the purposes of medication management and further assessment. They will assess whether changes need to be made to your regimen.


Psychiatrists are trained in therapy but will usually refer you to a psychologist or alternative mental health professional for therapy. These professionals have specialized in various therapy modules and are best equipped to help you.

Online Therapy

They may recommend online therapy, which is today’s technological answer to the mental health crisis. With online therapy, you have easy access to therapists no matter where you are or how much time you have.

Resources to Help You Find a Psychiatrist in San Diego

To find a psychiatrist in San Diego, you can use Psychology Today’s comprehensive database. You can also ask your personal physician or local clinic to refer you to a psychiatrist.

The Current and Future Gaps in Mental Health Care

Mental health care in San Diego and throughout America still has many gaps. While the county is working on filling these gaps, this is not a problem that will be solved overnight.

San Diego Mental Health Statistics

San Diego’s mental health statistics are in line with those across America. Around 9% of San Diego residents experience severe psychiatric distress in any given year. In 2017, 458 San Diegans died by suicide and 641 San Diegans died by opioid or meth overdose.

Mental Health Resources

Mental health resources are still limited, in spite of increased budgets. In 2018, officials were alarmed by the closure of a number of inpatient psychiatric hospital beds, leading to a reassessment of the county’s approach to psychiatric problems.

Next Steps for Addressing These Issues

San Diego county is working to address these issues by making them a heightened priority. They are working with various psychiatric institutions to ensure that more beds are opened, rather than closed, to accommodate more patients and prevent escalation of symptoms early on.

As a Society We Need To Support Those Around Us

As San Diegans, we need to come together and support those around us, by becoming more aware of mental health issues and what can be done for them.

San Diego faces a shortage of psychiatric services with mental illness rates increasing. This is in line with the rest of America. However, the county is working towards increasing the psychiatric services that are available and raising awareness of these issues.

Further reading:

San Diego Mental Health Statistics

North County Health Services

Mental Health Services Eligibility according to Health and Human Services Agency

Highlights from Conference on San Diego Psychiatric Care

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author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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