A group of Santa Fe psychiatrists has created a directory to help patients connect with the appropriate mental health practitioners.

The directory, called "Psychiatrists of Santa Fe," lists 15 local psychiatrists, whether they are taking new patients or not, which types of insurance they take, and what types of service they offer. Some psychiatrists specialize in working with certain groups of patients, based on their age or diagnosis, and different psychiatrists use different therapeutic modalities—some do psychotherapy whereas others are more focused on medication management for stable patients.

Santa Fe psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Lazarus spearheaded the project, which has been two years in the making, after observing the difficulties patients and even referring doctors often have in connecting with the right psychiatrist. Often times when a patient gets a referral for psychiatric services, they are simply instructed to contact their insurance company for a list of doctors it works with. Such lists are often outdated (the physician is no longer in practice or no longer takes that insurance) or include many doctors with full schedules who can't take a new patient. Especially because psychiatric illness can sometimes make such tasks even more daunting, that process puts up an extra barrier to finding appropriate mental health care.

"It can be very frustrating for the patients," Lazarus says.

The directory is a double-sided card that will be mailed out to 400 or 500 health care providers and patient advocacy groups like the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, which has a very active Santa Fe chapter. Lazarus says since discharging physicians often don't know which psychiatrists take which insurance, the directory should help them point patients in the right direction. That's especially important for patients who have received emergency mental health care and need dependable follow-up outpatient care to become fully stabilized.

At this point there's no online version of the directory, but Lazarus says one might be developed eventually. Physicians and hospitals who use the directory will be able to post it on their own websites, however.

The directory will be updated annually, Lazarus says.