When it comes to mental health, there are a variety of professionals who can provide care and treatment. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have gone to medical school and can prescribe medications for conditions such as anxiety or depression. Physician assistants (also known as associate physicians) are mid-level healthcare providers who have earned a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and have accumulated at least 1,000 hours of practical experience. After graduating from a physician assistant program and passing the national physician assistant certification exam, they are able to diagnose diseases, develop treatment plans, and prescribe medications.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners (also known as psychiatric nurses) must obtain a master's degree or doctorate in nursing with an emphasis in psychiatry. They can provide evaluations, diagnose mental health medical conditions, and provide therapy. In many states, they may also prescribe and monitor medications. If someone is considering medication for mental health issues, they should seek care from a primary care physician, psychiatrist, physician assistant, or psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Psychiatrists are specialist doctors who may use psychotherapy approaches (“talk therapies”) such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat mental health problems. They often work in hospitals, clinics or health centers, and some have private practices. A referral from another doctor is usually required to see a psychiatrist, and MSP covers the fees. If you have a valid BC Services or CareCard, you don't need to pay to see a psychiatrist.
Clinical psychologists can perform psychological tests, diagnose mental disorders, and administer therapy. In general, they cannot prescribe medication; however, there are some exceptions in three states where “properly trained psychologists may receive statute of limitations.