Why Is There A Shortage of Mental Health Care Providers for Both USA Children and Adults?

Despite an increase in the number of psychiatrists nationwide, there is still a shortage of providers, particularly for children or adults suffering from a mental disorder. Currently, one out of five children in the United States live in an area with no mental health care coverage, based on research by the Journal Pediatrics.  The Journal of the American Medical Association states that 1 in 5 people have some sort of mental condition – more than 40 million adults a year. The impact of such health problems, when measured by financial cost, disability, and death rates, has been higher than any other condition, according to reports by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Nearly 70% of counties nationwide have no child psychiatrists, and children are less likely to have access to a mental health professional when they live in lower-income counties with a lower education level. Six states have reported a decrease in the number of psychiatrists over the past 10 years: Idaho, Kansas, Indiana, South Dakota, South Carolina, and North Dakota. The disparity persists while the profession seems to grow as much as 21%. Also, fewer Americans are having children and the Affordable Care Act as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program are available, so access to care should improve.

After a decade-long data was analyzed by the Department of Health and Human Services, they found out some of the obstacles to increasing the availability of child psychiatrists, including the inaccessibility of accredited medical schools to graduate these health care providers and the further training essential for these specialists that focus on children. There is also a financial disincentive for these professionals to pursue this type of career. For instance, a psychiatrist could earn $200,000 while a dermatologist has a starting salary of $500,000. In other words, skin conditions are of primary importance while mental health issues are of a secondary nature – it should not be so.

Just last month, a study by the federal government shows that suicide rates among children and adults are on the rise. Also, many children struggling with mental problems are facing bullying, assault, discrimination, and even incarceration. Despite all the struggles they face, they survive and keep surviving with little to no help from providers and society.

The problem is more severe in rural areas since most mental health professionals tend to move to urban areas. Also, mental health professionals, as well as providers, are spending a lot of time on paperwork for insurance companies, so they have less time to sit with patients. On top of all that, most practicing psychiatrists are over the age of 55 and about to retire. These challenges when combined can be discouraging. Mental health care organizations must address these issues to offer more access or better quality of access to care so that the growing mental and behavioral health needs of U.S. children and adults are met.

Mental health coverage may be available through employee assistance programs, your existing health insurance, purchased within the framework of your policy, Medicaid, Medicare, disability, and VA health benefits. Contact one of our licensed agents to determine which option works best for you or your loved ones.

Sources
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-get-mental-health-insurance-using-it-wisely-1738985

  • https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2018-05-25/whats-the-answer-to-the-shortage-of-mental-health-care-providers

  • https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/why-mental-health-care-deserts-persist-for-u-s-children

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