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Shortage crisis in mental-health care

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Herewith a look at the where and why of America’s shortage of mental-health clinicians. That shortage, of course, leads to a higher incidence of more obviously “physical illness”.

Consider that {m}ore than half of U.S. counties have no mental-health professionals and so ‘don’t have any access whatsoever,’ according to Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told The Washington Post. Most of the severely underserved areas are in the South and West.

“Nearly one in five adults — about 43 million people — had a diagnosable mental disorder within the past year. For nearly 10 million, the condition was serious enough to affect their ability to function day to day. Millions of adolescents also struggle with a debilitating mental disorder,” The Post said.

“Many people have become eligible for mental-health coverage under the ¬†Affordable Care Act. Yet finding the professionals to deliver that care is increasingly tough.”

“Experts cite inadequate reimbursement from government and private insurance plans as one factor.

“‘A medical student leaves medical school and residency with the same amount of debt no matter their specialty, yet primary care and psychiatry are professions with some of the lowest annual salaries,”‘ Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president for public policy at the National Council for Behavioral Health, told the newspaper.

‘”If you look at the valuation for an hour of therapy, you could say we pay plumbers, carpenters and handymen more than we pay for behavioral health,”‘ said ¬†Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America.

 

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