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Kaiser Patient Stories

Why on earth do I need to wait so long?

Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019 #

I was put on anti depressants to help me cope when my mom died two years ago. The psychiatrist I saw then retired. The best psychotherapy Kaiser could offer was once a month, which meant I had six appointments over six months. That is bad psychotherapy, as anyone who’s gone to a real therapist knows. Once a month isn’t enough to make real changes. Now I am feeling better and want to get off these drugs, or at least be seen and talk to someone. My primary care physician suggested I break the capsules in half, but they are capsules and I’m not comfortable breaking apart the powder! I called for an appointment in early May and the first they could get me in was at the end of July. Why on earth do I need to wait so long?  I want to safely be able to get off my meds but I don’t know how. Why am I paying for health insurance if I can’t get in to see my doctor? This is not ok with me. I need more immediate help. What can I do?

Allison
San Francisco

 

My daughter thinks about suicide most days

Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019 #

My 15-year-old daughter is currently being treated for depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation at Kaiser Santa Clara. Her treatment began in January 2019. Her therapist is fantastic but my daughter can only get an appointment every four to six weeks. She recently suffered a sexual assault and even this was not enough to allow for a more frequent appointment, even though I was willing to come ANY time an appointment became available. My daughter thinks about suicide most days and recently has begun to have insomnia and suffer nightmares related to the assault. Current clinical guidelines recommend therapy much more frequently than every four to six weeks. Teens with other forms of insurance are often seen every one to two weeks upon the initial diagnosis. We love our therapist but will likely change our insurance company if we are unable to obtain more frequent behavioral health access.

Chris
Santa Clara

Some of the damage can never be un-done.

Published Wednesday, July 10, 2019 #

My daughter has suffered from mental health symptoms since childhood. We felt lucky to be paired with an outstanding psychiatrist and an outstanding therapist through Kaiser. However, when the therapist suggested a follow-up appointment in two weeks, invariably the wait would be six weeks. When follow up should be in one month, the wait would be three to six months. My daughter is now an adult, with some serious issues that have led to all kinds of problems — both for her and for the rest of our family. She is now getting weekly therapy and monthly psychiatric appointments with a non-Kaiser organization. She is making progress, but this should’ve happened years ago. The damage has already occurred. Some of the damage can never be un-done.

Leslie
Bostonia

I continue to wait

Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019 #

I switched to Kaiser at the end of 2018, and began seeking ongoing treatment for major depressive order and generalized anxiety disorder, which I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. I saw a psychiatrist in February 2019 — and from there made an appointment to see a general therapist, who I couldn’t see until April. In five months, I had two in-person sessions and two phone appointments. In June, when I felt the need to further examine my symptoms, I was informed I could not be seen until September. I’ve been resistant to this, but have yet to be referred an outside therapist and continue to wait.’

Joshua
Sylmar

I see my clinician once every 4-6 weeks

Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019 #

I have been receiving care at the Vacaville Kaiser facility for the past four years. Within time span, I see my clinician once every 4-6 weeks. Some of the time, I am able to make it work, given that I have developed a lot of coping strategies and I can get help between appointments with group therapy or talking with someone on my campus. However, earlier this year I hit a devastating point in my treatment and became suicidal. I shared what was going on with my clinician and because I am only able to be seen once every 4 weeks, I would call her to let her know when I was in crisis. She would then do her best to reach me in between other patients or in the evening. Even though she didn’t say it, I knew I was causing her to work past her scheduled shift as she attempted to assess my situation to determine the level of danger I was in with myself. Thankfully, because of her professionalism and commitment to work with me through phone calls and emails, I was able to get through that season. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have the coping skills that I do, nor the level of resilience within me, I would have taken my life in February 2019. It wouldn’t have been the fault of my clinician; it would have been placed on the shoulders of the institution she works under.

Michelle
Vacaville

If I die, Kaiser is 100 percent at fault

Published Tuesday, June 25, 2019 #

I am lucky to get one appointment per month. Kaiser will refer you over and over again to group classes instead of one-on-one care. Recently, my health has been declining and I asked to be referred to one of the groups called Wise Minds at the Kaiser Oakland facility. The group has over a month wait to join. My therapist can no longer provide me with the EMDR therapy that I have been seeing him for, because his schedule doesn’t have the availability for it anymore. He expressed to me his frustration, saying that Kaiser forces him to see a ridiculous number of new patients per week, causing neglect for returning patients’ care. I have recently begun self-harming again, and I am fearful of what might happen if I can’t get access to regular care. I cannot afford a private therapist. I was recently put on SSI/disability and began Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy, yet am told my illness does not deserve consistent access to therapy. The message Kaiser is sending to patients is that we don’t matter. I am afraid no one will pay attention unless I am hospitalized again (which is extremely traumatic), or end up dead. If I die, Kaiser is 100 percent at fault. I have been treated for mental health by Kaiser since I was 13 years old (I am 23 this year) and I can whole heartedly say they have done nothing but make me feel WORSE.

Morgan
Oakland

Kaiser often referred me to support groups

Published Monday, June 24, 2019 #

Kaiser often referred me to support groups. I complained a lot and they finally referred me to an outside therapist who I see locally without delay. I made a fuss and was able to get better treatment that way. But it took a long time, and I was strong enough to continue pressuring Kaiser, making calls to the president of the Fontana Behavioral Health office, etc. I was denied service for Transcranial Image Therapy (TMS), as the Fontana office didn’t refer out for that. I found out that the West Los Angeles office DID refer out, so I went to a psychiatrist at that office (approximately 100 miles away) and was able to get a referral for that treatment for my depression. I’m resourceful, assertive, and rather high-functioning, so I was able to get service after a lot of fuss. But a lot of patients are not. I’ve seen suicidal patients (from support groups) who couldn’t get a therapy appointment for a month or so. These were people who had previously tried to commit suicide. It was heartbreaking.

Tricia
Fontana

I can’t wait months to get help

Published Sunday, June 23, 2019 #

Depression runs in my family. I have been seeing therapists and taking medicine since the age of 14. I’ve gone through some very hard events and experiences recently and really need to see a therapist again. I called to make an appointment at the beginning of June. They told me they didn’t have an opening for a month. Now I’m struggling every day through anxiety attacks, deprived of much-needed help. I’m living in a war with my brain. I can’t wait months to get help. Its impairing my ability to function and putting a strain on my relationships. I need help. I shouldn’t have to wait months and go through these stupid processes.

Alexis
Stockton

I’m tired of feeling hopeless, anxious and fatigued

Published Thursday, June 20, 2019 #

I made an appointment on the phone to meet with a therapist and psychiatrist. The therapy appointment is six weeks away from today. However the psychiatric appointment is all the way in November. It’s May 23rd today. That’s 6 MONTHS away. I’ve been having terrible anxiety and depression from chronic pain and previous mental health issues. I just had surgery done and have trouble sleeping due to pain and not being able to relax. I’ve had insomnia for over a year and just decided seek mental help because my issues are taking a toll on me. I haven’t left the house much due to the pain, insomnia and hopelessness. I’m tired of feeling hopeless, anxious and fatigued all day and night. I’ve been having suicidal thoughts from not being able to sleep. I would really like to discuss this with my therapist and psychiatrist sooner rather than later. To some people like me, mental health and help is a timely concern. It’s not something you can schedule 6 months down the line and be put on a waitlist for. Kaiser seriously needs to pull it together and provide timely care for ALL OF THEIR patients and members.

Derek
La Mesa

The first available appointment was 3 months, 18 days away

Published Thursday, June 13, 2019 #

I talked Kaiser to arrange for my 13-year-old daughter to see a female therapist to treat her depression and help her build some coping skills. I was given the date of September 24 — three months and 18 days from today — as first available date. I asked about other options since she can’t wait three months to talk to someone. They said she would be put on a wait list in case someone cancels, but the wait list is long and there’s no guarantee her name would be drawn. I see people complaining on here about waiting one month; I’m not sure how they expect anyone to wait that long, let alone THREE months. Desperate at this point for other options.

Matt
Anaheim

I can’t wait months to get help

Published Thursday, June 6, 2019 #

Depression runs in my family, so I have been seeing therapists and taking medicine since the age of 14. I quit going to the therapy at Kaiser because they just went in circles. I never learned any new coping skills. Now that I’ve gone through some very hard experiences, I really need to see a therapist again. I called to make an appointment and they told me they didn’t have an opening for a month. I’m struggling every day through anxiety attacks, deprived of much-needed help. I’m living in a war with my brain. I can’t wait months to get help.

Alexis
Stockton

I’m very worried about my mental health

Published Thursday, May 30, 2019 #

After more than a year of trying to access Kaiser’s mental health care, I had to check in the hospital to get more help. If I had been able to see a therapist more than once a month, I probably could have avoided the hospital stay. I am now out of the hospital going to intensive outpatient program and I have only had one one-on-one session with a psychiatrist. It has been two weeks. I feel that there is not enough help at Kaiser. I pay a lot to have health care and now I think I will need help outside of Kaiser psychiatry to really help me. I’m very worried about my mental health.

Becky
Santa Clara

I called 33 therapists on Beacon’s list

Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 #

I”m in an ugly family crisis and have been trying to get therapy from Kaiser for many months. Kaiser outsources for therapy with Beacon and Magellan, but the lists of therapists they give you are useless because virtually none of them are taking new patients! Kaiser pays the therapists too little, so therapists get out of that system as quickly as they can. I called 33 therapists on Beacon’s list, and most were not even taking clients, so I still don’t have a therapist. Now I”m looking into private pay; in other words, skipping Kaiser altogether!

Ariana
Redwood City

Mental health needs to be taken more seriously

Published Friday, May 17, 2019 #

I’ve been having anxiety attacks for weeks. Kaiser told me the next appointment would not be until six weeks from the time I called. I called them almost everyday to see if there had been any cancellations so I could be seen earlier. I finally had a full-blown panic attack and I told  the receptionist I’ didn’t think I could wait another day to see someone. She was able to squeeze me in for a 30 minute appointment with a psychiatrist. Mental illness is debilitating. When it happens to you, you feel like you need to see a doctor right away. Six weeks is a long time to wait when you’re having symptoms of depression, panic, mood disorders. It’ll be too late for some of us by then. Mental health needs to be taken more seriously.

Joann
Lomita

It takes SO LONG to get appointments

Published Friday, May 10, 2019 #

My son has various mental health needs. Everyone he has worked with has been great. They really care and have been very helpful. The issue is that it takes SO LONG to get appointments. I recently called to get an appointment with his therapist and it is a month-long wait. That is unacceptable. He is not currently in crisis so we can currently wait; but if he were in crisis, we would have to do what we could to get through for four weeks. That is way too long. It means there are not enough doctors to see all the patients. We need more doctors.

Carrie
Santa Rosa

It seems Kaiser turns a deaf ear

Published Friday, May 3, 2019 #

I had heard from friends about long delays and poor access to mental health services at Kaiser. I was referred to an outside agency for grief counseling after the death of my younger sister. I requested two to three sessions for short term help. After I was subjected to a 10-minute and two 45-minute telephone “intake” interviews, I was they couldn’t help me. They recommended I go to hospice for help. They further insulted me by suggesting I try one of their “drop-in” grief groups — there was no current openings, but they said I should check back in three or four months! I registered complaint with member services and went to hospice, where I received help immediately.

Is this what I pay monthly premiums for? The  time spent on “intake interviews” would have been better used in counselingMy heart goes out to those in dire need, as it seems Kaiser turns a deaf ear with a totally inadequate mental health department.

Paula
San Rafael

It will be at least 8 weeks until I am seen

Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 #

I was released from a partial hospitalization program of intense therapy five days a week, five hours a day. The day after my discharge, I met with a psychiatrist and therapist at Kaiser. It was more than six weeks until my next 50 minute therapy appointment. Unfortunately I was unable to make it, so it will be at least eight more weeks until I am able to be seen.

Jody
Sacramento

My daughter had severe anxiety and depression

Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019 #

My daughter was going through a rough time. She had severe anxiety and depression. She began cutting. I tried to get her help. Kaiser assigned her a therapist who could only see her once every other month. They put her in a teen group, and I was with the parent group. A couple months in, I caught her taking a bunch of pills to kill herself. I rushed her to the emergency room. The psychologist let her come home, saying that  holding her would make her worse. Kaiser truly is a very concerning place if you are needing mental health services.

Christina
Los Angeles

I never have the option to schedule a visit within six weeks

Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019 #

I generally only need to see my therapist once a month, which is very good because I never have the option to schedule a visit anywhere within six weeks. Even though I wanted to see my therapist over the winter holiday season to deal with my depression, my visit was pushed back all the way to March. I don’t blame my therapist — she’s great — but I feel like she needs more help if she can only see patients once every 30 days.

Michael
Milpitas

I have given up trying to see someone regularly

Published Monday, April 22, 2019 #

From the first phone call, it took me a visit with a social worker to finally get referred to see a psychiatrist. I had been put on an anti-anxiety medication by my regular Kaiser doctor, but I wanted to see a specialist to be sure I was on the right medication for me. It took over a month to finally see a psychiatrist. I also started seeing a therapist that was covered by Kaiser but about 45 minutes away from home. Then she stopped seeing Kaiser patients, so I switched again to another Kaiser therapist. I didn’t feel she gave me anything helpful, so switched again.  I liked my new therapist, but my appointments were cancelled at least four times. I finally have given up trying to see someone regularly.

Lori
Thousand Oaks

I have seriously contemplated suicide more than once

Published Sunday, April 21, 2019 #

I finally saw my therapist on January 30. The last time was in early November. So much has happened in my life in the intervening three months, I wasn’t even sure where to start. There are some amazing people working at Kaiser, and it makes me sad that they don’t have the support or the resources they need to do their jobs well. After waiting for three months, I had forty-five minutes to talk to my therapist about all of the things that have been bottling up for all this time.
Also, the next appointment my therapist has available is in March. I have seriously contemplated suicide more than once over the last three months, and now I get to wait two more before I can talk to my therapist about it again. If I’m really lucky between now and then, and recognize I’m in crisis, maybe I’ll remember to call 911. Isn’t this a great system?

Crystal
San Francisco

 

I gave up on therapy

Published Saturday, April 20, 2019 #

I’ve repeatedly asked Kaiser for more frequent therapy sessions, but Kaiser seems incapable of providing appointments less than six weeks apart. Sometimes they’re as far as eight weeks apart. I was told if I needed more frequent psychotherapy, Kaiser would have to pay for me to receive it outside of their practice, but I’ve never been able to find access to that service. I gave up on therapy because there’s nothing productive to meeting six times per year.

Ryan
San Francisco

This experience was so horrible

Published Friday, April 19, 2019 #

I went to Kaiser psychiatry for an intake because I needed individual therapy. I told the intake worker that I wanted to address past trauma I had never spoken to anyone about. She said my “score” was too low to receive any individual counseling. She gave me information about a group coping skills, but I wanted to speak about my trauma in a one-on-one environment. She then gave me community resources with a sliding scale for individuals. This experience was so horrible I never sought out therapy again.

Michelle
Sacramento

This neglect led to one of my suicide attempts

Published Thursday, April 18, 2019 #

I was diagnosed with severe depression in my early adolescence and received the appropriate care as a pediatric patient all the way to age 18. But once I reached adult age, it would take a month or more to get an appointment with my psychologist and it would be a short appointment at that. My psychiatrist was also very hard to get an appointment with. When someone with depression and anxiety is trying to get back to “normal” and their medications aren’t working, they need help as soon as possible. This neglect led to one of my suicide attempts and even after this, I still felt my care was inadequate. I finally decided to change facilities and providers.

Kaylee
Richmond

The first appointment I could get is in four months

Published Wednesday, April 17, 2019 #

I called my Kaiser psychiatrist’s office today to let them know I was feeling worse every day and might need to change my meds. They called back and said that the soonest my doctor could see me is August 21st, more than FOUR MONTHS from now. I made a therapy appointment last week for the soonest time available: SIX WEEKS from now.

Julie
Los Angeles

The mental health at Kaiser is a joke

Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 #

After giving birth to both children through the kaiser program, I was struggling mentally. I could not get an appointment with a Kaiser therapist for three or four weeks and it was scary times. When I did gethttps://nuhw.org/wp-admin/post-new.php#edit_timestamp an appointment, I was basically told “being a new mom is hard, its going to be hard” — in other words, that I should just “deal with it.” My therapist pushed me into group therapy. I’ve attented a stress management group, mindfulness group, anger management group, DBT group, and many, many more. It wasn’t at all effective. I ended up seeing someone outside of Kaiser and paying steeply out of pocket. I have no complaints about my primary physician or my childrens pediactric doctor or OBGYN with Kaiser; in fact, I love them. But the mental health at Kaiser is a joke.

Vicki
Campbell

I spent six to eight weeks fighting with Kaiser

Published Monday, April 15, 2019 #

My primary care doctor who referred me to the behavioral medicine department at Kaiser Oakland for help with my depression. I was told to call an organization called Beacon Health to set up an appointment with a therapist. I called Beacon with my needs and availability and was told that someone would get back to me with a list of therapists to contact. After waiting 10 days and not hearing back, I called them back myself and was given three names. All three were fully booked or no longer working with Beacon. I called back Beacon as well as Kaiser.  I was able to receive one more therapist name from Beacon, with the same result — they were too busy to see me. In hindsight, I’m really glad my condition back wasn’t more severe. I basically spent about six to eight weeks fighting with the Kaiser and Beacon bureaucracies, to no avail. For anyone struggling with severe symptoms, this could have had grave consequences.

JD
Oakland

I gave up and got out of Kaiser

Published Sunday, April 14, 2019 #

In 2015 I was going through a divorce and I lost my home. I started seeing a psychiatrist for depression and anxiety. Sadly, I have only seen my doctor twice in the last three years. I was taking meds I’ve never heard of and was prescribed six different antidepressants by doctors I’ve never even met. Every time I tried to call for an appointment, I would be placed on hold for forty minutes just for them to tell me that there were no appointment and I would be placed on a waitlist to see my doctor. I have been on this so-called wait list to see my psychiatrist since October 2017! I have not been able to get an appointment to see any doctor at Corona til this day. A few months ago I tried to call for an appointment again and was told my doctor was out on medical leave for the last seven months. I needed an urgent appointment and begged them to let me see any doctor, and that was impossible. They told me I would be placed on another waitlist for someone else. I gave up and got out of Kaiser.

Cesar
Coronoa

I lost my Mom to suicide

Published Saturday, April 13, 2019 #

I lost my Mom to suicide and was deeply depressed. I waited weeks for an appointment with a Kaiser clinician, only to be referred to a weekly depression class. Thankfully, I had the means to seek out a private therapist on my own, who later referred me to a psychiatrist. It was with weekly therapy sessions and medication that I finally saw improvement. I should have been able to get the care I needed through the insurance that I pay for.

Steph
Oakland

I waited more than seven months

Published Thursday, April 11, 2019 #

I waited more than seven months to be seen by a therapist. I had to call every week to see if anyone had cancelled. I now have a therapist , but I only see her once a month. When I started having panic attacks, I asked if I could see her more often, but she said her schedule just wouldn’t allow it. So now here I am with a therapist who understands me and has helped me grow, but I can only see her once a month.

Winifred
Lomita

I know better than to rely on Kaiser

Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 #

I know better than to rely on Kaiser when I need a therapist. Two or three years ago, after running through whatever Kaiser therapists I could see, I tried Kaiser’s outside referral service, and it was horrible. It took three tries just to get through to a person  — who could not answer my questions, nor find someone in my area, but sent a list of practitioners via e-mail. This list supplied only addresses, no education or years in practice (I’m 67 and do not wish to talk to a 30-year-old who has no concept of my cancer issues). I had to interview each potential therapist myself (two were completely booked; why were they on the list?). Once I chose one, I had to go back to the beginning to make an appointment. I had to make three more calls to get through and get approval for one meeting. This took over 6 weeks. When he did not work out, and I had to go through the same rigamarole to get another, I just quit. That’s probably what they were trying to do — discourage patients so they could save money. Lucky I had a husband and wasn’t suicidal. What about those who are alone and are?

Deirdre
Los Angeles

 

I left feeling completely let down

Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 #

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I have also been a Kaiser member for more than 30 years. Earlier this year I was experiencing increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. My doctor recommended psychotherapy sessions, so I contacted the department to make an appointment. It took three weeks to get my first appointment with a therapist. After listening to me pour out my deepest distress, and being appropriately empathetic, the clinician told me that my next appointment could not occur until five weeks from that initial appointment. I was astonished! I inquired about the practice of long stretches between sessions when a client is in severe distress. I was told that this was the standard policy for Kaiser. I left feeling completely let down, and in a worse state of mind than when I had arrived. It seems almost abusive to me to ask a person to pour out their deepest pain, then send them off for five weeks to deal with these intense emotions on their own. I completely support the clinical staff of Kaiser in their efforts to accomplish changes in the Kaiser standard of mental health care.

Rozanne
San Diego

I tried twice to access mental health services at Kaiser

Published Monday, April 8, 2019 #

I tried twice to access mental health services at Kaiser. The first time I had an appointment with a therapist who signed me up for a class. I was disappointed because I didn’t feel listened to, but I went to the class. At the end of the course, I felt worse. Several years later, I tried again. This time I had an appointment with a psychiatrist. The intake form had questions regarding suicidal thoughts. I answered them honestly, in the affirmative, but no follow up was done during or after the appointment. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes that prevents mental health staff there from doing their ethical best, but it seems like something is getting in the way. I did get treatment eventually after getting different health insurance and am glad to say that I am no longer struggling with anxiety and depression as I have proper, regular care.

Carolyn
Pleasanton

I was desperate

Published Sunday, April 7, 2019 #

I was experiencing a series of panic attacks. I called the Kaiser help line in early November to set up an appointment, and the earliest appointment they could give me was on December 19. I had to learn to cope with my own panic attacks through those anxious weeks. When I finally got in, I was only able to see my psychologist once a month. I needed more help than that. Their solution to my anxiety was to prescribe me medication, but only after attending group counseling. I have social anxiety, and pushing me go to an anxiety group only made my condition worse. I begged for medication because I needed something right away — I couldn’t wait another month for my next appointment. I was desperate and they weren’t able to give me the treatment I needed.

Rebecca
Redwood City

I feel miserable and trapped

Published Saturday, April 6, 2019 #

Reading through some of others’ experiences with Kaiser’s mental health services, I can relate to so much of what has already been said. First, my therapy sessions went from twice a month to one per month. then I was told that there is nothing more that therapy can help me with. I still work with my psychiatrist, whom I truly appreciate, but I’m now going on four months since I was cut off from therapy. I feel miserable and trapped, and Kaiser doesn’t seem to care.

Paul
Aliso Viejo

Kaiser was no help at all

Published Friday, April 5, 2019 #

In January, after two years of traumatic life events, I found myself unable to function normally. I felt like I was in a daze, could not focus or concentrate, had no physical energy, and was experiencing panic attacks. I knew something was wrong so I made an appointment with my primary care physician. She referred me to psychiatry. That appointment took two weeks to get. When I arrived for the second appointment, I discovered it was only an “intake” and I was referred to a third appointment to actually see a doctor. That took another two weeks. Yesterday, after a month of referrals, the doctor wrote me a prescription for some medication and that’s all. After taking the first dose, I became so ill I thought I’d have to go to the ER. So, here I am a month later, sick from the medication, no improvement in my symptoms, and no follow-up appointments. I’m a teacher and cannot do my job without concentration or energy. I’ve burned a month of sick leave trying to get help and have to try to go back to work without receiving any help at all. I don’t know where to go from here. The only thing I DO know is that Kaiser was no help at all.

Patricia
San Diego

Kaiser provides assembly line therapy

Published Thursday, April 4, 2019 #

I’m a Kaiser therapist. People should know that that the rule is to NOT provide sessions more than every other week, and that managers tell us we can’t ask to stop adding new patients until our turnaround time is four to six weeks (sometimes more). We have new patients being added daily to our caseloads, even though Kaiser knows we have no time to see them. Kaiser doesn’t care that we come in early, stay late, and work through our lunches to try to help our patients. The expectation is that we only see patients monthly, twice a month IF needed, and that we should do short-term therapy to get patients out as fast as possible to make room for the new. Kaiser provides assembly line therapy at the cost of the patients’ and staffs’ well-being. Kaiser mental health treatment is great, but only when you can get it. Kaiser members seeking mental health services will spend more time on hold to the Behavioral Health Call Center trying to schedule appointments then they will actually seeing their provider.

Anonymous
Woodland Hills

I was at an incredible low

Published Wednesday, April 3, 2019 #

I called Kaiser’s mental health clinic when I was at an incredible low. It took a lot for me to make that call. Once I was connected to the mental health services department, I answered a long list of questions. It was determined that I was a danger to myself or others and needed immediate help. As I began to set up an appointment, I realized that we were scheduling me for a facility far from my home. I asked for an appointment at a more local facility. “You will have to call that office directly,” they told me. “Can you transfer me? Or do you have the number?” The woman on the phone said she didn’t have the number and advised me to look it up online. And that was that. No additional help. No follow up. Nothing. I ended up not calling the other place and have been trying to deal with it on my own.

Stacy
Riverside

This is NOT sufficient care

Published Tuesday, April 2, 2019 #

My son has significant anxiety problems. When we were scheduling his appointments with his psychologist (who was excellent, by the way), we were told that even though he had had suicidal thoughts, without actual suicidal ideation, he could only come every other week. WITH ideation? Once a week. For someone actively planning a suicide? This is NOT sufficient care.

Jennie
Oakland

I would have taken my life

Published Monday, April 1, 2019 #

I’m a patient at Kaiser’s Aliso Viejo Medical Center. My therapist has been a pivotal component of my health journey. Thanks to her services, I have experienced transformative changes in my mental health, including an increase in positivity, vitality and creativity in my life. However, the length of time between my appointments is long, and my heath has suffered as a result. For example, in November of 2018, I experienced bouts of suicidal ideation. I called a crisis hotline and took other emergency action, but was still unable to schedule an earlier appointment with my therapist. Had a chance cancellation by another patient not occurred, I would have taken my life during that period. When I saw my therapist, it was after weeks of compromised health, mental suffering, and risk of suicide. This experience reflects a disappointing level of accessibility at Kaiser Permanente, and a real need for improved access to mental health services and professionals.

Lydia
Aliso Viejo

My newest referral in private practice is a Kaiser patient

Published Sunday, March 31, 2019 #

I brought my daughter to see a therapist after she was diagnosed with learning disabilities and an autoimmune disorder. I was shocked when I told by the therapist who conducted the intake: “We don’t provide individual therapy. I can refer your daughter to a group, but we don’t have a group right now with children her age.” I sought individual treatment for her outside of Kaiser and paid out-of-pocket for weekly therapy. I am a clinical psychologist and my newest referral in my private practice is a Kaiser patient who was told she could not receive mental health services because her case was not acute and she was not suicidal.

AJ
Walnut Creek

Developing a bond with a therapist is very important

Published Saturday, March 30, 2019 #

I was only able to see a therapist once every six weeks. If the therapist or I were sick on the day of the appointment, I’d have to wait another six weeks to see her –that means the time lapse would be three months. Kaiser encouraged me to try group therapy, but there were certain things I didn’t want to share in a group. Also, developing a bond with a therapist is very important, and you can’t build that under these conditions. I finally found another agency that provides low cost support.

Yvonne
Los Angeles

This is not the standard of care

Published Friday, March 29, 2019 #

My husband suffers from severe anxiety and went to see his doctor for both medication management and therapy. He was given a list of community therapists, none of whom were accepting new patients. After I filed a grievance, he was finally offered an intake appointment with a mental health clinician for therapy — nearly four months after seeking care. The therapist saw him once and scheduled a follow up in four weeks, which is not the standard of care. I am a primary care physician myself and for a clinic of 2,000 patients, we have two full-time behavioral health clinicians who see patients in warm handoff on the same day and schedule them for therapy within a week. If they qualify for longer term therapy, they get a timely referral. And I work in the safety net! My Kaiser premiums (luckily shared by my employer) are about $1500 per month — you would think they could afford to help my husband with the one medical problem he has. It is shameful.

How easily someone could fall through the cracks

Published Thursday, March 28, 2019 #

I finally agreed that I needed to seek help and called Kaiser to make a therapy appointment. I was shocked that my intake appointment was scheduled six weeks out and my first therapy session was four weeks later. When my session was done, I had a moment of peace, thinking the waiting time was finally over and I was going see my therapist at least on a bi-weekly basis. I was super discouraged to hear that my next appointment was six weeks away. I am working towards my MSW, and I wonder: What if I were suffering from a severe mental illness or other  chronic condition? How would Kaiser provide me with the support I needed? How easily someone could fall through the cracks with these long waiting periods while their symptoms only get worse.

Jess
Baldwin Park

What Kaiser provides is not mental health care

Published Wednesday, March 27, 2019 #

I am a therapist. The number of Kaiser patients I see coming into private practice therapy to pay out-of-pocket is ridiculous. People with serious symptoms such as self harm, depression, personality disorders, mania, and so on are being seen every six to eight weeks at Kaiser. In San Jose, Kaiser refuses to give patients outside referrals for therapy even though they are not able to meet the needs of the patient in-house. What Kaiser provides is not mental health care. It is not even close to the standard of care needed.

Tina
San Jose

I have no faith in Kaiser’s ability to help me

Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 #

I’ve attempted to receive mental help from Kaiser on multiple occasions, but they have failed me each time. The first time they referred me to an outside therapist, and then decided they weren’t going to cover it, forcing me to pay out of pocket hundreds of dollars and stop my therapy after only three sessions, as I couldn’t afford to continue. After a second unsuccessful attempt to receive care from Kaiser directly, I reached out to my local LGBT center for free counseling with an intern. This helped for a while, but I eventually needed someone with more experience. I found a therapist outside of Kaiser who had a sliding scale fee I could afford. I met with her for several months and it was very helpful, but even with the sliding scale it wasn’t maintainable long term. I have recently had a baby and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, and am once again attempting to seek help. I have told the therapist and psychiatrist that I have no faith in Kaiser’s ability to help me through this. Seeing a therapist once a month, at best, is deplorable and almost pointless. If I injured my shoulder and had a physical therapy appointment once a month, I would not expect to get better. I don’t believe in Kaiser’s ability to heal anyone.

Alyska
Vista

 

I’m on my own

Published Monday, March 25, 2019 #

I called the Kaiser psychiatry department and saw an intake therapist who recommended therapy for me. I was referred to Magellan healthcare and given a list of providers in my area. I called every number and no one answered. I left countless messages, but I haven’t received a single call back from any of them. I guess I’m on my own when it comes to taking care of my mental health. I know I need help, but I refuse to just take an antidepressant. It’s been at least five months since I was referred for therapy. I’m so over it.

Jacqui
Modesto

My daughter came to Kaiser with anxiety at age 10

Published Sunday, March 24, 2019 #

My daughter came to Kaiser with anxiety at the age of 10. She attended a Kaiser support group for kids with anxiety, but the group model did not give her the tools she needed and she was still anxious. Instead of offering another service, Kaiser told us that she had to just spend the next three years untreated because the only other service Kaiser offered was an anxiety group for adolescents. We waited, and by the time she was old enough for teen group, she had two new diagnoses — OCD and Performance Anxiety. When the Teen Group didn’t work for her, her doctor did not offer any other treatment option but said, “Sometimes teens have to feel really bad before they are willing to make the changes they need to feel better.” And he refused to offer any other service or refer her out to other services.

Megan
San Francisco

This is a terrible abdication of care

Published Saturday, March 23, 2019 #

I tried getting mental health care from Kaiser — even just basic care, like seeing a therapist once a week, the bare minimum for depression — at Kaiser Los Angeles and was informed that they “don’t do weekly therapist appointments.” Instead, they do monthly appointments and then group visits, along with referrals to community resources. Given how much I pay for insurance (plus all my co-pays and other charges), its insane that I can’t see a therapist. Kaiser decided to pull the plug on mental health care and it is terrible. Unless you have some extra cash to pay out of pocket for therapy, you are out of luck with Kaiser. This is a terrible abdication of care.

Dan
Los Angeles

Kaiser’s delays led to one of my suicide attempts

Published Friday, March 22, 2019 #

I was diagnosed with severe depression in my early adolescence and received appropriate care from Kaiser as a pediatric patient all the way to age 18. But once I reached adulthood, it would take a month or more to get a appointment with my therapist and it would be a short appointment at that. When someone with depression and anxiety is trying to get back better and their medications aren’t working, they need help as soon as possible. These delays led to one of my suicide attempts, and even after that, I still felt my care was inadequate. I finally decided to change facilities and providers.

Kaylee
Richmond

My teenage son needed mental healthcare

Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 #

I finally got my teenage son to agree to get help for his mental health issues. He went to his first appointment and agreed to continue, until we found out the next available appointment was eight weeks later. He told me, “Never mind. What’s the point?” It saddens me that my son could have gotten the help he needed but was discouraged by the process. Now we’re back to the chaos of his life and I pray everyday for him.

Lisa
Diamond Bar

my daughter was diagnosed with learning disabilities and an autoimmune disorder

Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 #

I brought my daughter to see a therapist after she was diagnosed with learning disabilities and an autoimmune disorder. I was shocked when the therapist who conducted the intake told me, “We don’t provide individual therapy. I can refer your daughter to a group, but we don’t have a group right now with children her age.” I sought individual treatment for her outside of Kaiser and paid out of pocket for weekly therapy. I am a clinical psychologist myself, and my newest referral in my private practice is a Kaiser patient who was told she could not receive mental health services because her case was not acute and she was not suicidal.

A.J.
Walnut Creek

 

I was only able to see a therapist once every six weeks

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019 #

I was only able to see a therapist once every six weeks. If the therapist or I were sick at the time of the appointment, I’d have to wait another six weeks to see her — that means I would go three months between appointments. Kaiser encouraged me to go with group therapy, but there were certain things I didn’t want to share in a group. Also, the development of a bond with the therapist is very important, and you can’t build that bond under these conditions. I finally ended up going elsewhere to get the care I needed.

Yvonne
Los Angeles

I called Kaiser bawling my eyes out

Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019 #

After giving birth to my second child, I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. I was desperately trying to get better. I called Kaiser bawling my eyes out, begging for help, and they gave me an appointment for the following day. When I showed up to the appointment, I found out it wasn’t a real appointment but an “intake appointment.” I just answered question for about 30 minutes to see if I even qualified to receive mental healthcare. I was told not to overshare or go too deep into detail. They then gave me an appointment for weeks later. It was devastating to say the very least.

Jeanette
Ontario

I came in with thoughts of suicide

Published Monday, March 18, 2019 #

I came in with thoughts of suicide. I was evaluated, waited two weeks to see a psychiatrist, then three weeks to see a therapist. Then I was told I couldn’t see my therapist more often than once month. If I weren’t lucky enough to find an affordable out-of-network therapist with a much higher copay than Kaiser’s, I could be dead.

Will
Point Loma

This is simply unacceptable

Published Sunday, March 17, 2019 #

I had a relapse of an emotional breakdown I’d experienced following the death of my husband several years ago. While Kaiser was quick to prescribe antidepressants, I was told that the wait to see a therapist was averaging two and a half months. That was in October. I had my first visit on December 7, and was told the next one would be February 18. I cannot afford outside therapy at $180 an hour. This is simply unacceptable, and my view of Kaiser, which had been good, has declined radically.

Linda
Pasadena

I wish Kaiser would acknowledge that they are short-staffed

Published Saturday, March 16, 2019 #

I have been seeing a Kaiser therapist for six months. I can only her every four or five weeks because she has no availability before that. Kaiser mental health therapists work very hard to support their patients. They are very caring and very competent! Unfortunately, you can tell that they are exhausted. I wish Kaiser would acknowledge that they are short-staffed. The therapists are doing the best they can with the ridiculous load of patients they care for and the limited resources that they are given! Kaiser is a billion dollar company, so why won’t they with treat their employees fairly and show some appreciation for their hard work!

Alyssa
Santa Clarita

Please, Kaiser, help us

Published Friday, March 15, 2019 #

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II and anxiety. Life is hard with these conditions, harder when you you can only see your therapist once every month if you are lucky. It got so bad that I had to personally call my therapist so she could (hopefully) squeeze me in at the last second during one of my depressed times. Knowing these wait times were ridiculous and dangerous for me, I called Kaiser to see if I could switch locations. They said they would put in the request. I never heard back. I tried again. Never heard back. Eventually they told me that other hospitals were closed to new patients because they were already backlogged. I then tried to request an out-of-network therapist. They said they would not reimburse me because technically I “could” still see a Kaiser therapist, even though it took a month. I now pay $160 a visit a therapist outside of Kaiser — an amount I couldn’t afford myself without my families help. Please, Kaiser, help us.

Julia
Campbell

I deserve to receive the help I need and pay for

Published Thursday, March 14, 2019 #

I’d been struggling and feeling lost and finally worked up the nerve to look into seeing a therapist. I called Kaiser and was told that my plan covers mental health services and there was no limit to the number of sessions. Great, I thought, so I phoned the Kaiser near me to set up an initial screening. At the screening I was told that my issues were not severe enough for me to see a Kaiser therapist. I was instead given a list of outside providers that I could  pay on my own, and a list of one-day workshops that Kaiser might provide in my area (most were not) on topics like meditation (which I already do). Kaiser promotes itself as being a big proponent for preventative treatments but, when I tried to see seek out mental health treatment  to help curb potentially struggling with an even more severe depression, I was turned away. I’m paying for a plan that covers mental health treatment so long as I see a Kaiser therapist, but Kaiser won’t let me. I deserve to receive the help I need and pay for.

Megan
Walnut Creek

My therapist is overbooked

Published Wednesday, March 13, 2019 #

I am depressed and finally made that first step of making an appointment with a therapist. My first appointment was on November 30, and I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time as I left my appointment. When I learned I wouldn’t be able to get another appointment until February 2, my hope diminished. I’m paying a huge sum monthly to be a part of Kaiser and can’t even utilize my benefits because my therapist is overbooked. Please help me treat my depression!

Karis
Corona

I still have to wait another month to get seen

Published Tuesday, March 12, 2019 #

I have a history of depression and anxiety. I called to schedule an appointment in October and was told I couldn’t be seen until January 17. My mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly after that, and my anxiety worsened. I called Kaiser several times and explained why I needed immediate care. They promised someone would call me if there were cancellations and an appointment opened up for me, but no one ever did. I called the clinic again, desperate, and was able to talk to a therapist over the phone. It’s been three weeks since that phone call. I still have to wait another month to be seen by somebody, and, I’m afraid that I won’t able to even see the assigned therapist on a consistent basis, which is what I really need. This is absurd.

Jann
Santa Ana

Kaiser doesn’t listen

Published Monday, March 11, 2019 #

I suffer from major depressive disorder and PTSD. On average I have had to wait three months to see my psychiatrist. If I feel dangerously depressed, I’m told to go to the emergency room, which means they will order a 5150. I don’t want that — I just want someone to speak with. Instead of individual therapy, due to the lack of available therapists, I’m shoehorned into attending groups. Kaiser doesn’t listen and seems to distrust the very patients they are employed to serve. Keep in mind I have worked in the social service field for over two decades and would never treat a person the way they do.

Alex
Santa Rosa

This is not effective mental health care

Published Sunday, March 10, 2019 #

I was seeking a therapist, and Kaiser referred me to an outside provider (Magellan). It took two weeks for my referral to get to Magellan, then another three weeks for Magellen to send me a list provider names. None of the providers on the list was accepting clients. I was able to do my own search of Magellan’s database; I contacted approximately 25 providers over the course of a month until I finally found someone. However, after three sessions, her practice stopped accepting Kaiser’s insurance and we had to terminate treatment. Ultimately, I stopped looking for a provider. This is not effective mental health care.

Briana
Oakland

Help seemed so far away

Published Saturday, March 9, 2019 #

I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This year I went through some major changes in my life, which triggered an episode of depression for me that has left me debilitated for months. I am also a mother of two. Luckily, I’m not the type to not reach out for help. But when I did, I was told the first available appointment to see my psychiatrist was eight weeks away. I went through moments of feeling as though I would be better off disappearing because the emotional pain and suffering were too much to live with, and I felt like a burden on my family. Help seemed so far away. It still does.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

I had to call Kaiser SIX times

Published Friday, March 8, 2019 #

After trying for five weeks to schedule an appointment for mental health services with Kaiser, I was finally scheduled with an outside party that Kaiser uses to refer their clients for services. I had to call Kaiser SIX times because they never sent my referral, but when I had a sore throat I got an appointment the same day.

John
San Francisco

I am saddened and angry at the way I was treated.

Published Thursday, March 7, 2019 #

When I was pregnant with my son, I had horrible anxiety. I called Kaiser mental health services and was told it would take a month to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. I couldn’t believe it. I was in extreme distress, and the psychiatrist continued to recommend that I see someone weekly, but Kaiser could not help me with that. I pay Kaiser a lot of money and they failed to help me with basic mental health services. I am saddened and angry at the way I was treated.

Nicole
San Francisco

This has to stop – mental health matters!

Published Wednesday, March 6, 2019 #

I am a Kaiser patient, and it is very common I have to wait at least four weeks to see my therapist. As a man who suffers from anxiety and depression, there are numerous times I’ve had to have my family talk me off the ledge. This has to stop – mental health matters!

John
Ontario

Three months is too long to wait for care

Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019 #

My 14-year-old son was experiencing anxiety and depression last school year. I took him to his primary care physician, who referred him to a therapist. We waited approximately two months for this first appointment. The next appointment date she gave my son was three months after the first. Now I private pay someone who can see my son in a timely and more effective fashion. Three months is too long to wait for care. While we are fortunate that my son’s anxiety has been effectively managed, this is poor form for other patients who need the care.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

I have had to wait almost six weeks

Published Monday, March 4, 2019 #

I’m a former mental health clinician from a local nonprofit who received clients from Kaiser who also qualified for Medi-Cal services. My client told me they received better care from my non-profit than from Kaiser. Now, as a school mental health professional at a middle school, I have referred students to therapy who have suicidal and self-harm tendencies and the quickest appointment they could get was in two weeks. Now, as I attempted to work on my own mental health, I have had to wait almost six weeks for my second therapy appointment. I joke around that Medi-Cal mental health clients receive better mental health care but, it is no longer a joke?

Krystal
West Covina

I struggled to parent my daughter for several years

Published Sunday, March 3, 2019 #

I struggled to parent my daughter for several years. When she was four, I got a referral from her pediatrician to the psychology department for assessments in possible areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, or other disorders that may be impacting her behavior and leading to extreme meltdowns, night terrors, very late potty training, and cognitive development concerns. The psychologist met with me once to discuss my concerns, then met my daughter for 20 minutes, during which time she was uncomfortable but not displaying any of the concerning behaviors. I was then told I just “don’t know how to parent” and offered a group general parenting class in the middle of my workday. Fast forward five years: it turns out my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder, several cognitive delays, performs more than two grade levels below her actual grade, and has been referred by her pediatrician yet again for Autism Spectrum assessments. It sure would have been nice if Kaiser would have just done the assessments originally, instead of letting me struggle for five years to manage her behavior. I spent countless nights feeling inadequate because we we were lead to believe we just weren’t good parents.

Laurel
Santa Rosa

These kids struggle to access appropriate care

Published Saturday, March 2, 2019 #

I work directly in schools and regularly work with adolescents going through mental health crises. I saw time and time again these kids struggle to access appropriate care — or any care at all. Adolescents clearly in need of consistent therapy were coming to us with their parents, saying that all they received from Kaiser was a prescription for medication. The lucky ones who were given access to minimal care (twice per month instead of the weekly therapy they needed) saw difficulty scheduling actual appointments. I was appalled to find out that many of these students never got an appointment —  Kaiser simply refilled their medication prescription. The ONLY times I saw Kaiser step up was after these adolescents attempted suicide. Only then were they given access to consistent therapy sessions (although these were still group therapy sessions instead of the superior individual sessions), and these sessions were still time-limited. Parents were paying out-of-pocket for non-Kaiser therapists to see their children — a heavy and inexplicable burden considering they were paying for their Kaiser health insurance. Kaiser clearly uses a “wait to fail” model rather than being proactive — a very irresponsible and negligent choice when our children’s lives are at stake.

Carlton
San Mateo

I had a total nervous breakdown

Published Friday, March 1, 2019 #

I had a total nervous breakdown earlier this year, and needed to see a psychotherapist soon, and regularly. Kaiser made me wait two weeks for an initial appointment, and follow-up appointments weren’t available for another three weeks each time I saw the therapist. They tried to push me into a group support right away when what I truly needed was regular weekly visits with a therapist.

Mark
San Francisco

It took three months to get an initial appointment

Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 #

I was clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was about 13. I am now 34. I used to see therapists weekly. Since switching back to Kaiser through my employer’s healthcare plan last year, I wanted to begin treatment again. It took three months to get an initial appointment. After that, it was every other month. And at each appointment, all they do is try to sign you up for group therapy, barely doing any actual therapy, and always cutting sessions short by 15 or 20 minutes. I even switched therapists to see if it would help. It did not. I have decided to stop wasting my money, and cancel all therapy, despite needing it during a very difficult time in my life right now. I am hoping I can cope with just my medication. It is very disappointing and discouraging.

Veronica
Daly City

I was denied care twice

Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019 #

I was denied care twice, both through Kaiser Sacramento. I had never sought counseling before and went for my intake assessment. I explained my feelings of anxiety, depression and worthlessness. The doctor told me to go to a group coping skills class. I went to the class, but it didn’t help. The original doctor told me I could always call back if my symptoms changed, so I did. The phone operator told me, once more, “There’s nothing we can do for you.” I broke down on the phone, saying I was hurting and wanted to speak to a supervisor. After being told that none were available, I was once more instructed to try out the coping skills class. I was told one of the supervisors would get back to me, but they never called. Six months after my intake, I’m still waiting for care. But I guess, because I’m not suicidal, I don’t matter.

Emily
Sacramento

I waited two months for an appointment

Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019 #

I waited two months for an appointment and had to miss work (I’m a teacher) to go. When I was finally seen, I was told I could only have group therapy that met during the day. I was prescribed a benzodiazepine for anxiety, which I later found is not safe for long-term use. Over the holidays, I had trouble getting a refill…I called and called and my refill was never submitted to the pharmacy. As a result, I went through withdrawal and had shaking, vomiting and fever for days. When that was over, I didn’t want to take the benzos anymore because of what they did to me. I was not able to get an appointment to find a more suitable drug. My then-fiance and I registered as domestic partners months before our wedding just so I could get on his non-Kaiser insurance.

Kelly
Oakland

I felt out of control and ended up in the ER

Published Monday, February 25, 2019 #

I work for Kaiser as a nurse. At one point I felt out of control and ended up in the ER on a 5150. Then I became the patient. The follow-up was with Canyon Crest. That was the first in-take appointment. The follow-up for treatment and care was months out. Everything about the appointment process was a joke. By the grace of God I have found my own way out of the downward spiral that I was on, but I shouldn’t have had to rely on myself to treat myself. I believe the whole system is broken. It has been broken for some time. Things need to changed for the safety of our patients, employees, and physicians. When there is nowhere to turn for the help you need, horrible events take place. I have a lot of coworkers, including other nurses, who have experienced the same thing, and some don’t have the best outcomes in the end. These are the ones who struggle the hardest and lose the fight. There needs to be a change!

Suzanne
Riverside

The emotional suffering was too much

Published Sunday, February 24, 2019 #

I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This year I went through some major changes in my life (major work stress, loss of a loved one, end of my marriage). The stress of all these events combined triggered an episode of depression that has left me debilitated for months. Luckily, I knew I needed to reach out for help. But when I did, I was told the first available appointment to see my psychiatrist was eight weeks away. I went through moments of feeling as though I would be better off disappearing because the emotional suffering was too much to live with and I felt like a burden on my family. Help seemed so far away. It still does.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

In 2002 my dad committed suicide

Published Saturday, February 23, 2019 #

In 2002 my dad committed suicide. The day before, he had called Kaiser seeking help. He was told it would take weeks for him to see a therapist or get a space in an inpatient treatment program. Needless to say, my family often wonders what would have happened if Kaiser had offered something — anything — to help him.

Lily
Santa Rosa

I’ve repeatedly requested a Kaiser psychiatrist

Published Friday, February 22, 2019 #

My family selected Kaiser in large part because we were told you didn’t need a referral for psychiatry. I immediately requested a psychiatrist for care of my previously diagnosed anxiety and OCD. I was told I didn’t need a psychiatrist because my PCP could manage my medications, but I could see a psychologist. At my first visit, the psychologist agreed that I needed consistent and frequent therapy, but said that Kaiser could not accommodate more than one session per six weeks. I missed one appointment and was removed from the system. I was given a referral for care outside Kaiser. I was given one therapist to call and it didn’t work out. After repeated attempts to obtain a psychiatrist, I was finally referred out of network to a physician an hour away. This physician only did video appointments. I was billed for more than $500 in fees that I would not have been responsible for had I been allowed to see a doctor at Kaiser. I currently monitor my own psych meds with a PCP calling in my refills. In more than three years, Kaiser has refused to provide me a psychiatrist at all, let alone one I can see on a regular basis. I’ve repeatedly requested a Kaiser psychiatrist and have been repeatedly told I am “on a different system and only qualify for outside referrals.” After the last nightmare, I refuse to go down that path again.

Mandy
Walnut Creek

Kaiser’s understaffing is an insult to humanity

Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 #

There is a special place in hell for the administrators responsible for the state affairs with mental health services at Kaiser. I’m glad that I had a support community because let me tell you, Kaiser won’t be there for you. The understaffing is an insult to humanity; Kaiser makes everything so hard for people who are struggling to just cope with life. This destabilizing policy puts the staff in danger as well. It is unbelievable how the profit motive has so thoroughly trumped concern for patients at Kaiser mental health services.

Ivar
Oakland

I finally got a therapy appointment at Kaiser after 2+ months

Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 #

I have had private mental health treatment in the past, so I have a benchmark for what acceptable care is and I have learned some coping mechanisms along the way. Kaiser does NOT provide an acceptable standard of care. I finally got a therapy appointment at Kaiser after two and a half months of trying. To Kaiser’s credit, they asked me how “dire” my situation was, and whether I “needed” to see someone right away. But, as someone with anxiety, it was easy for me to doubt that my troubles were bad enough to displace someone else, someone who might need the care more than I did. I was asked if I was suicidal and I said at the time I wasn’t, so I was denied care.

Melissa
Daly City

I tell everyone I know to think twice before choosing Kaiser

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 #

Every time I called to figure out what services I could receive under my company sponsored Kaiser insurance, I was told that I could not receive regular mental health treatment outside of care for an emergency psychiatric event. How is an insurance company so focused on patients “thriving” so incredibly stingy when it comes to patients’ mental health? I tell everyone I know to think twice before choosing Kaiser if they ever hope to seek any type of therapy or counseling covered under any other insurance.

Laura
Oakland

This is cost-cutting at the expense of our health

Published Monday, February 18, 2019 #

I experienced postpartum depression with my first child, and prenatal and postpartum anxiety with my second. I needed weekly or biweekly counseling, but Kaiser could only offer a check-in with the doctor every two to four months. After several years of struggling, I learned Kaiser would refer out for therapy, and I requested this. Their contract agency did not have any therapists in my area – none. I have suffered on my own, and with the help of family, for five years now. Five years of paying Kaiser for care I did not receive. This is not healthcare. This is cost-cutting at the expense of our health.

Katy
Vacaville

Kaiser should be the leader in mental health care

Published Sunday, February 17, 2019 #

I have been a Kaiser member since birth. After a miscarriage 16 years ago, I experienced a major depressive episode and began taking medication for my illness. Today, I am still on medication and I really love my psychiatrist. However, when it comes to regular therapy, which I was in desperate need of approximately four years ago, the wait to see someone at Kaiser was just too long. Instead, I found another therapist and paid $150 per session, out of pocket. If I had had to wait to see someone through Kaiser, I don’t want to think what might have happened. My depression and anxiety had returned in a big way, and weekly therapy literally saved my life. I should not have had to go outside of Kaiser to get the care I needed. Luckily we were able to afford the extra expense, and it was worth every penny to feel well and whole again. However, there are many out there who are not able to pay out of pocket for desperately needed care. Kaiser should be the leader in mental health care. There is no excuse for the wait times that are currently the norm in the mental health department. I stand with NUHW; change is needed immediately!

Jeanette
Norwalk

I can only see my therapist once every other month

Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 #

I am a Kaiser member and have been getting therapy for the past five years. I can only see my therapist once every other month. Sometimes my therapist has had to cancel our appointment, and then I go as long as four months between visits. This isn’t sufficient!

Kim
Santa Rosa

I have to wait six months to see my psychiatrist to evaluate my meds

Published Friday, February 15, 2019 #

I have to wait six months to see my psychiatrist to evaluate my meds. That’s ridiculous. Also, I can see a social worker, but hardly ever as she is so busy. If I need counseling, which I do, the best she can do is refer me to a group counseling session. I don’t want to go to group therapy. It’s useless and complete waste of my time. I want a session with my own provider who is listening to just me. Otherwise, I get what? Ten minutes — at most — to discuss my issues and get feedback?

Ashley
Pasadeina

It took forever to get an appointment

Published Thursday, February 14, 2019 #

It took forever to get an appointment when my daughter was experiencing depression and anxiety attacks. The Kaiser facility we went to was an old building, somewhat hidden, and it was hard to find the entrance.  It was dark and depressing, like an old mental hospital. This has to be unsettling for the young people coming in with mental health issues. This was shocking given Kaiser’s new buildings on Broadway and MacArthur. It is obvious that Kaiser isn’t investing equal resources in its mental healthcare facilities staffing. Very disappointing and very sad!

Bonnie
Oakland

know better than to rely on Kaiser when I need a therapist

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 #

I have been a Kaiser member since the early 1990s, and I know better than to rely on Kaiser when I need a therapist. A couple years ago, after running through whatever Kaiser therapists I could see, I tried Kaiser’s outside referral service, and it was horrible. It took three tries just to get through to a person, and they couldn’t answer my questions nor find someone in my area. They emailed me a list of practitioners that supplied only addresses — no information about their education or years in practice. I had to interview each potential therapist myself, then had to make three more calls to get an appointment with the one I chose. I was approved for one therapy appointment, and this took more than six weeks. When this therapist did not work out, and I found out I had to go through the same process to get another, I just quit. That’s probably what they were trying to do — discourage patients so they could save money. Luckily, I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t suicidal, but what about those who are?

Deirdre
Los Angeles

This is an unacceptable way to treat patients with drug problems

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 #

I sought help from Kaiser after using drugs for 25 years. Kaiser recently sent me to a program called the Lighthouse. They only wanted me to stay seven days; I pushed the issue and was able to stay 14. They were supposed to transfer me to an intensive outpatient program, but they cancelled my intake appointment and never called to reschedule. I showed up at the office and pushed to be seen. They saw me and scheduled an intake appointment for two days later. At that appointment I was informed that there was a waitlist for the program. I have now been out of rehab for 13 days and am still not in a phase two program. This is an unacceptable way to treat patients with drug problems who are trying to stay clean. If Kaiser cannot handle to number of patients, they should outsource. Bottom line is, our insurance should be meeting our needs and it is not. Mental health is the most important aspect to surviving for drug addicts, and these programs need to be available immediately. It is hard enough to seek out help on our own, and waiting to get help in these situations can be disastrous.

Emit
Fontana

It’s been six months since I first reached out

Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019 #

Kaiser referred me to Beacon. I’ve called Beacon, and waited on hold many times, during business hours, but never spoken to a person. Once I held for more than 40 minutes. Once or twice, I got a call back, but I was teaching at that moment and couldn’t answer. They left voicemail to call them back, but no instructions about how I might get my badly needed therapy. I will call again tomorrow, but I’m very frustrated and don’t know how I will get help. I need to speak to a person who will set up an appointment for me at a reasonable time. It’s been six months since I first reached out, and things have gotten a lot worse. Several of my friends are therapists and they tell me this area is oversaturated with therapists, so why is Kaiser so short-staffed?

Sarah
San Francisco

They try to get you in and out

Published Monday, February 11, 2019 #

My experience with Kaiser is that they try to get you in and out, with barely any access to true mental health care. This can only lead to more deaths, suicides and illness on Kaiser’s bloody hands. It really is deplorable. My therapist is wonderful and has helped me as much as she possibly can under the restrictions and limitations of how often and how many times I allowed to see her. With mental illness having such a stigma, it really is horrible that Kaiser does this to people who may have too much shame to defend themselves and get the care they need.
Shame on you, Kaiser!

Susan
Napa

I called Kaiser after having a series of panic attacks

Published Sunday, February 10, 2019 #

I had Kaiser and called the help line after having a series of panic attacks. I called in  early November and the earliest appointment they could give me was late December. I had to learn to cope with my own panic attacks through those weeks, anxiously waiting for my appointment. When I finally got help, I was only able to see my psychologist once a month. I needed more help than that. Their solution was to prescribe me medication, but only after attending group counseling. I have social anxiety, so being forced to go to an anxiety group only made my condition worse. I was desperate and they weren’t able to give me the treatment I needed.

Rebecca
Redwood City

I was suffering from near-constant anxiety and suicidal thoughts

Published Saturday, February 9, 2019 #

When I started suffering from severe depression, I had Kaiser insurance through my parents’ plan. Even though I was suffering from near-constant anxiety and suicidal thoughts, I was made to wait six weeks to see a therapist. That therapist criticized me for not seeking care sooner. When I asked to be recommended to a different practitioner, she refused to continue treating me and didn’t refer me to any other therapist. Kaiser then told me it would be another six to seven weeks before I could see a different mental health professional. Thankfully, I soon received new health insurance through work. I genuinely believe that if I still used Kaiser, I would have suffered a serious psychological episode without treatment.

Jakob
Sacramento

I never got a call back from Kaiser

Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 #

Last year I scheduled an appointment at Kaiser-Napa for counseling. I was going through a rough spot, so my primary care doctor scheduled an appointment for me. I am also a counselor, so I knew I needed to get right to it.

I saw a wonderful therapist, and we got to work. We were doing very well for several visits. Then I showed up for an appointment one day, and the clerk took me back to the office and told me my therapist had been seen running to her car. She never returned and nobody was talking. I wanted to work with a female therapist so my name put on a waiting list. I never got a call back from Kaiser.

Sandra
Napa

I tried to convince Kaiser for years that my love was suicidal

Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019 #

After trying to convince Kaiser for years that my love was suicidal, they released him from care after three days and he committed suicide. They called and left a message that he missed a follow up appointment, so I called and left a message that he missed his appointment because he was dead, and that I thought they do a lousy job of helping people. They actually called me back and wanted to know if I thought they released him too soon. I said, “He’s dead!”

Vic
Walnut Creek

This level of neglect is unacceptable

Published Monday, February 4, 2019 #

My 18-year-old sister has anxiety attacks, depression, and a history of self-harm. When she moved to a new town, her anxiety went through the roof. She would call me at all hours, unable to sleep, paralyzed with fear. The disruptive thoughts were so crippling that at times she wasn’t able to leave her house to go to work. She tried to make an appointment with a mental healthcare provider at Kaiser, and was offered an appointment eight weeks away. When I tried to find her additional help through local services, they denied her because she had insurance. We even considered dropping her off of the Kaiser insurance so that she could use MediCal and get the help she needed in a reasonable amount of time. This level of neglect is unacceptable. Kaiser needs more mental health clinicians NOW.

Bryanna
Napa

 

I cannot begin to tell you the horror stories I have heard

Published Sunday, February 3, 2019 #

As a former employee for Kaiser Permanente Member Services, I can attest first hand to how poor access to mental health department is. In my seven years there, I spent my time dealing with member grievances, and it was our job to either look for a sooner appointment, or to determine why the care they so desperately need is “‘not medically indicated.”

I cannot begin to tell you the horror stories I have heard. I worked statewide, and there was not one mental health department doing it right. The solution in recent years has been to refer people out, but this does not always happen and isn’t available in all regions. Kaiser Peramente’s attitude toward mental health is not only callous, but dangerous too. They know they can afford to pay any fine provided and since it’s cheaper to pay a fine, they won’t ever fix the problem. We would get a heads-up of any negative media coverage, of which we’ve had several, and were told what we could and could not say. There have been many lawsuits against Kaiser Permanente due to their poor mental health access.

Amanda
Former Kaiser Staff

They make you jump through hoops

Published Sunday, February 3, 2019 #

They make you jump through hoops and run through a bureaucratic obstacle course before you can see a provider. Access to an actual psychiatrist is almost impossible unless you merely want medication. They hand you off to newly certified social workers or demand you go to a group. Sorry, one size does not fit all. Young people just out of school may not have the experience and wisdom it takes to counsel eighty-year-olds. Kaiser’s Mental Health Department is the weak link in their system. Management: Stop penny-pinching the patients and staff and give us some quality here.

Barbara
Lomita

My son attempted suicide by slashing his wrist

Published Friday, February 1, 2019 #

My son attempted suicide by slashing his wrist. He was taken to a Kaiser hospital, his wrist was sewn up, he was held for a few hours for observation, and released. When I asked the attending psychiatrist whether further observation wasn’t called for after a suicide attempt, he told me that “technically, this was not a suicide attempt, but a case of self-mutilation, so no further observation is necessary.” I told him, “It won’t matter to my son or to me what you call it, if the next time he ends up dead.” He didn’t reply. 

Joe
Los Angeles

Kaiser’s poor mental health care continues

Published Thursday, January 31, 2019 #

Kaiser’s poor mental health care continues. In August, we brought our son in to their chemical dependency office. They sent us home without completing the intake forms because the person who gave us the clipboard failed to give us all the correct forms. Then, when we went back a week later, they diagnosed him with mild to moderate alcoholism and offered group therapy in two locations, both more than an hour away. He is having black-out drinking episodes, trying to run away, and he totaled our cars. No offer of a setting in San Rafael. How on earth can they think that’s appropriate mental health care? That’s basically offering nothing.

Anonymous
San Rafael