In recent posts we've looked at States with the worst primary care and dentist shortages. Today we will reveal the 5 States with the Worst Mental Health Care Shortage based on our analysis of data from the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As of May 2014, the HRSA estimates that 96 million Americans, spread across close to 4,000 geographic areas, population groups or facilities in the country, lack enough psychiatrists to adequately meet their mental health care needs. A mental health care shortage area, according the the HRSA, is one where there is less than 1 psychiatrist for every 30,000 people who live the in the designated area. On a national basis, the HRSA estimates that there is a shortage of just over 2,700 psychiatrists throughout the country, with a psychiatrist shortage being found in every state except Rhode Island and Vermont.
In ascertaining which states have the worst mental health care shortage, the key variable in our analysis
is a State's psychiatrist shortage in relation to its total
population. To be a candidate for our "5 States with the Worst Mental Health Care
Shortage" list, a State will have a psychiatrist shortage that is
disproportionately large given the State's total population. Each of the 5
States on our list is one where its share of the total national
psychiatrist shortage is substantially greater than its share of the total national
So which states make our list of the 5 States with the Worst Mental Health Care Shortage?
At fifth worst is Montana. While having 0.32% of the national population, Montana has 0.78% of the national psychiatrist shortage, giving the state a psychiatrist shortage that is 2.4X more than one would expect given its population. It's a disproportionately bad number, but not nearly bad enough to seriously compete for the bottom spot on our list.
Barely edging out Montana for the 4th worst place on our list is New Mexico. New Mexico accounts for 1.66% of the national shortage of psychiatrists and 0.66% of the national population. With a shortage 2.5X more than one would expect for a state its size, New Mexico did just bad enough to squeak past Montana for the 4th spot from the bottom on our list of 5 States with the Worst Mental Health Care Shortage.
South Dakota sits comfortably on our list as the State with the 3rd worst mental health care shortage based on our analysis of HRSA numbers. The State is home to only 0.81% of the national shortage of psychiatrists. Unfortunately, that is about 3.1X more than one would expect given that South Dakota has just 0.26% of the overall national population
Moving on, we found that the second worst place on our list belongs to Arizona. Arizona has a psychiatrist shortage that is over 3.5X more than one would expect for a state its size. The State has just over 2.1% of the national population, yet it has more than 7.5% of the HRSA's estimated psychiatrist shortage. Even with this disproportionately bad mental health care shortage, Arizona still lagged our bottom finisher by a solid margin.
Finishing dead last on our list of States with the Worst Mental Health Care Shortage is Wisconsin. This result was a bit of a surprise as Wisconsin fared well in our analysis of primary care and dentist shortages. Unfortunately, those favorable conditions in the primary care and dental care arenas did not carry over at all to the State's mental health care environment. With 7.83% of the HRSA estimated psychiatrist shortage and 1.82% of the national population, Wisconsin's shortage is almost 4.3X worse than one would expect for a state with its population.