Friday, April 7, 2023

The Southwest's Mental Health Care Shortage

Geographic areas, population groups, or facilities with substandard access to mental health care services can be designated as a health professional shortage area (HPSA) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  Such a mental health care shortage designation can be based on the size of the HPSA's population relative to either (a) the number of psychiatrists that serve the community, or (b) the combined number of psychiatrists, clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, and certain other types of mental health care practitioners who service the HPSA. According to the HRSA, most mental health care shortage designations are currently based on an HPSA's population relative to the number of psychiatrists serving the HPSA.  The HRSA reported that, as of December 31, 2022, more than 158.4 million Americans lived in mental health HPSAs.

The four-state Southwestern region was home to 14.5% of the U.S. population who lived in mental health care shortage areas as of December 31, 2022.  To eliminate the shortage, the HRSA estimates that Southwestern region HPSAs would need more than 1,100 additional mental health care providers.  The Southwest's mental health care shortage thus accounted for about 14% of the overall national shortage of mental health care providers.  A further examination of HRSA data reveals the following state-level details about the Southwest's mental health care shortage:

The Southwest's Mental Health Care Shortage

The Southwest's Mental Health Care Shortage

State (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
AZ 236 3,478,236 227
NM 94 1,619,974 86
OK 121 2,166,285 100
TX 439 15,770,751 702
Region 890 23,035,246 1,115
U.S. 6,599 158,413,168 7,957

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

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 12/31/22 (HRSA)

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