Psychologist Lauren Welter says she faces an ethical issue with no easy answer on a regular basis:
Should she take on more clients and provide less care to those she already sees, or turn away potential clients who have no alternatives?
Welter practices in the small northeast Iowa town of Monticello — about 3,800 people — which did not experience flooding this year, and her clients sometimes include farmers.
“What’s really tough in an area like mine,” Welter said, “is that if I am unable to take a client, there’s really nowhere else to refer to. And so I’ve lately been sort of trying to accept a few more people.”
Sometimes, she said, it is impossible for her to squeeze people seeking care into her schedule.
“And I think these are really important ethical questions facing psychologists and different institutions. And there’s really no perfect answer, because there’s people that aren’t able to get the care that they need.”
Welter is familiar with problems facing farmers. Her husband is one of them. Despite pressures farmers face, she is surprised by how few farmers have reached out to her, she told IowaWatch.
Welter said she often makes referrals to urban areas like Iowa City or Cedar Rapids, which have a higher saturation of mental healthcare professionals. But finding time to make that drive can be difficult for farmers with long and sometimes non-stop workdays. Besides, she said, many of those mental health clinics are fully booked, too.
Welter said she relocated her practice from Iowa City to Monticello to be closer to her family and end the long commutes she had previously driven between the two locations.