FAQ’s: Mental Health Urgent Care

I have been hosting this blog for the past 3 years, and during that time my clinical work has evolved substantially. I went from solo psychiatrist specializing largely in the care of teens, young adults, and people stuck in life (personality disorders and complicated cases), to founder and Medical Director of an Urgent Care clinic (Sigma Mental Health Urgent Care www.sigmamhuc.com). My work is the same as ever, except for the ways that it’s different. Lately I get a lot of questions about what I do in my day job, so in reply, here are the answers to the questions you may have about urgent care in mental health:


1.     What is a mental health urgent care clinic?

Like Urgent Care in other specialties, Mental Health Urgent Care is outpatient care (in a clinic) that is available right away. People can walk in, or get an appointment for the same day. Since mental health appointments may take longer than other types of medical appointments, calling ahead can drastically reduce wait times.

2.     Why would anyone need an MHUC? Why not simply get an appointment with a psychiatrist and do things the old way?

Getting an appointment with a psychiatrist is harder than it used to be. As mental health awareness has increased, more people are seeking care from psychiatrists. But the number of psychiatrists has not increased enough to meet the increased need. So, going with a traditional outpatient psychiatrist appointment is perfectly fine, but you may encounter long wait times or have trouble finding someone to help you.

3.     Is an MHUC a psychiatric hospital?

No. An MHUC is not a hospital; it’s an outpatient clinic. Patients come in and meet with a doctor or a nurse practitioner, and get regular psychiatric services like counseling and prescription medication.

4.     Are clinic visits one time only, or do patients follow up?

Patients can come one time, or several times. Most commonly, people come in for care for 3-6 months while they are on a waiting list with a psychiatrist on their insurance plan.

5.     Do I need an MHUC if I already have a psychiatrist?

Probably not. If you already have a psychiatrist who manages your care, you can probably get care from your current doctor more easily, and safely, than starting over with someone new. The only exceptions may include times when your doctor is unavailable, for example, when she is out of the country and you need immediate help.

6.     Can I make an appointment?

We do take appointments, because most people prefer a designated time slot to reduce wait times.

7.     Can an Urgent Care clinic do a one time only second opinion consultation?

Yes. That’s something we do often. A primary care physician may send over a patient with complicated mental health symptoms, or a family may come in seeking a second opinion about the diagnosis and treatment plan.

8.     Is Sigma Mental Health Urgent Care only staffed by Dr. Deuter, or are there other doctors as well?

We have a team of professionals. There are psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, P.A.’s, and therapists on the Sigma team.

9.     I read on your website that Sigma doesn’t prescribe Adderall or Xanax. Why is that?

Since Sigma is a short-term place for care, it’s not the right place for receiving controlled substances (i.e.: potentially addictive medications). The safest place to get a prescription for a controlled medication is from a doctor who knows you well, and will oversee your care for the long haul.

10. As a professional, why do this new thing? Why not stick with the old way? (This new way of approaching care makes some people uncomfortable, or anxious).

Under the old way, too many people were falling through the cracks of the system. A single psychiatrist can only address a small part of the growing need, and available hours fill up fast. Turning people away does not create a fulfilling career. Urgent Care gives us an opportunity to help the people who need help now.


Posted on March 6, 2017 .