According to the industry reports, staffing shortage at mental health clinics is worsening and is at a crisis point. This is happening at a time when demand in all aspects of mental health services is on the rise. As per reports, psychiatric nursing graduates are emigrating to the private sector for better pay and work conditions which have pushed the recruitment and retention crisis further.
What is causing the shortage?
Shortage of mental health providers has never been a new phenomenon but this problem is growing and becoming more apparent than ever.
- According to a report, the demand for adolescent and child psychiatry is expected to double by 2020.
- It is being predicted that 34% of psychiatric nurses might retire by 2021 which will add to the crisis of staff shortage at mental health clinics.
- As per a report by Health Affairs, more than half of US counties have zero psychiatrists.
The main reason behind this situation is the decline in number of trained psychiatrists. It will become very difficult for the already over extended resources available to behavioral services across the US to maintain the current demand.
Due to the burden of shortage of mental health specialists, other areas of the healthcare system are also getting strained. The primary care sector is now facing pressure to fill the void that has resulted from the lack of mental healthcare providers.
Another challenge is that most mental health care professional’s cluster in urban areas due to which shortage problem has become acute in rural areas. Similar to other providers, mental health professionals are also spending more time on paperwork for payment from insurance companies, which is causing another level of burnout.
What needs to be done?
Growing number of mental healthcare organizations are striving hard to address these challenges and create more providers. They are also working towards offering better and bigger access to quality care so that the growing need for mental and behavioral health services can be addressed.
Besides bringing in more providers, it is also necessary to look into new models of care so that access to existing providers can be improved. Some of the innovative ways include tele-psychiatry and integrated care. Instead of bringing the patient to the mental health professional, these methods will bring psychiatry to where the patient is, saving a lot of time.