Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Mental Health Care Shortage by Region

September 2020 data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reveals that an estimated 119 million Americans lived in areas designated as a mental health care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). A geographic area, population group, or facility, residents of mental health care HPSAs have poor access to basic mental health services because the area lacks a sufficient number of psychiatrists and/or core mental health providers. For HRSA purposes, core mental health providers include marriage & family therapists, psychiatric nurse specialists, clinical social psychologists, and clinical social workers. HRSA designation criteria is based upon the population within the HPSA relative to the number of mental health care providers that service the area. Although the population-to-provider ratio needed to qualify for designation varies by HPSA type (geographic, population or facility), all HPSAs with a mental health care shortage designation have a population-to-provider ratio that meets or exceeds certain thresholds established by federal regulations.  As of September 2020, the HRSA estimates that all mental health care shortage areas in the U.S. would need just under 6,500 more practitioners to eliminate all such shortage designations.

Here is a summary look at the mental health care shortage by region (for state-level details, follow the "region" link):

Region (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
Far West
1,223 17,151.6 874
Great Lakes
710 18,095.8 837
Great Plains
784 8,649.8 419
390 7,157.7 520
New England
193 2,173.0 120
Rocky Mountain
317 7,693.1 363
1,236 35,483.3 2,198
814 20,819.0 979
U.S. Territories
66 2,120.7 154
U.S. 5,733 119,344.0 6,464

(1) Designated Geographic, Population Group and Facility HPSAs with a mental health care shortage
(2) Population of designated HPSAs, in thousands
(3) Mental Health Care practitioners needed to remove HPSA Designation

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 9/30/20 (HRSA)