These numbers are daunting, but I am glad to see organizations trying to respond to this situation on multiple fronts. It’s going to take a lot more than just training a few more mental health care providers. We need to embrace multiple possible options.
Troubling Numbers But Hopeful Answers
The numbers are indeed troubling:
- More than half of U.S. counties have zero psychiatrists, according to a 2016 Health Affairs report.
- About 111 million people live in “mental health professional shortage” areas, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Two-thirds of primary care physicians report difficulty referring patients for mental health care, twice the number reported for any other specialty, according to the journal Health Affairs.
- The number of patients going to emergency departments for psychiatric services over a recent three-year period increased 42 percent, the National Council for Behavioral Health reports.