Addressing the Mental Health Care Staffing Crisis

Dire Straits Of Mental Health Care Staffing

The shortage of mental health care professionals coupled with the increased demand for services has led to a grim situation for many patients and providers, and there is no quick fix on the horizon. Thanks to efforts to combat stigma around mental illness like the #CureStigma and #StigmaFree campaigns from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Affordable Care Act, and other reforms, we are seeing an upward trajectory in the number of individuals willing and able to seek help. While the growth in demand continues, the supply is barely holding steady despite efforts to attract new practitioners to the field. According to an analysis by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) the nation needs to add 10,000 providers by 2025 to close the increasing divide.

The numbers are alarming. More than half, over 24 million, of individuals experiencing a mental health condition are going untreated and one in five adults seeking treatment is finding his or her needs unmet. When considering the personal and societal impacts of continued untreated and undertreated disorders including further mental and physical decline, substance abuse, violence, incarceration, homelessness, and even suicide, the urgent nature of the problem is obvious.

The mental health care staffing crisis is daunting, but it is essential to deploy creative long-term and interim solutions to address the problem. The good news is, whether your organization is a hospital, primary care office, behavioral health center, rehabilitation center, or corrections facility, there are things you can do now to meet the challenge.


More From Less

We are not likely to see demand for behavioral health treatment level off any time soon, so we must figure out how to serve more patients with fewer providers. Health care providers feeling the pain of the shortage are pursuing integration of mental health care with primary care, telepsychiatry, and locum tenens NPs and PAs to extend the availability of mental health services to their patients.

Integrating mental health services within primary care settings is seen by many as fundamental to the long-term solution. Changing the care model to treat the whole patient is central to improving overall health and addresses the lack of access issue for patients. Advanced Practice Nurses are already helping to balance the primary care physician shortage, and those with mental health specialties are uniquely valuable in the integrated model.


Here To Help


The scarcity of mental health professionals no doubt comes into play when primary care facilities implementing an integrated approach and mental health facilities decide to augment their staffs. This is where a recruiting and placement firm becomes especially attractive. Rather than attempting to find their own needles in the haystack, they can rely on an organization that has already amassed a pool of exceptionally qualified NPs, PAs, and physicians who are available to quickly step into a locum tenens or permanent position.

LeaderStat can quickly provide experienced mental health locum tenens nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as physicians for permanent placement. Contact us at 877-699-STAT to learn more.

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LeaderStat specializes in interim leadership, executive recruitment, travel nursing, provider recruitment and consulting for healthcare organizations.