Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Southeast's Mental Health Care Shortage

A population group, facility or geographic area where access to mental health care providers is poor can be designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as a health professional shortage area (HPSA) for mental health care services. This designation can be based on the size of the HPSA's population relative to either (a) the number of psychiatrists, or (b) the combined number of psychiatrists and certain other mental health care practitioners (clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, etc.) that serve the community. Currently, most HRSA mental health care shortage designations are based on population size relative to the number of psychiatrists.  As of December 31, 2021, more than 136.6 million Americans lived in a mental health care shortage area according to HRSA data.

The twelve-state Southeast region accounted for about 28.2% of the U.S. population who lived in mental health care shortage areas as of December 31, 2021.  The HRSA estimates that HPSAs in the Southeast would need over 2,100 more mental health care providers in order to eliminate that shortage. The Southeast's shortage of mental health providers thus represented about 30.7% of the nation's mental health care provider shortage.  A closer study of December 31, 2021, HRSA data reveals the following about the Southeast's mental health care shortage:

The Southeast's Mental Health Care Shortage
The Southeast's Mental Health Care Shortage

State (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
AL 61 2,927,845 156
AR 54 1,193,989 69
FL 210 6,416,363 384
GA 93 6,029,369 217
KY 115 2,903,930 166
LA 157 3,409,679 152
MS 83 3,189,681 197
NC 198 3,607,900 202
SC 70 2,249,599 105
TN 70 3,154,955 247
VA 93 2,590,261 119
WV 106 788,500 90
Region 1,310 38,462,071 2,104
U.S. 6,078 136,575,592 6,851

(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, 12/31/21 (HRSA)

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