Is there a lack of mental health professionals in America?

Is there a lack of mental health professionals in America?


Treatment Access to Urban vs. Rural counties

More than 115 million people in the United States live in designated areas of shortage of health professionals. These are areas where the ratio of mental health professionals to residents is less than 1 per 30,000 people.

  • The United States has an average
    • 30.0 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 15.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Metropolitan counties have on average
    • 33.2 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 17.5 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Non-metropolitan counties have on average
    • 13.7 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 5.8 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Rural provinces (areas without cities greater than 10,000 people) have on average
    • 9.1 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 3.4 psychiatrists per 100,000 people

Deficiencies are more likely to occur in rural areas due to a lack of funding and infrastructure. Many provinces have no mental health professionals at all.

Meanwhile, cities are likely to have more professionals than average and may still see a saturation of workers.

Which Areas in America Have Most Providers?

The shortage is more pronounced in some parts of the country. Measuring the prevalence of psychologists alone:

  • New England: 55.6 per 100,000
  • Average Atlantic: 41.8 per 100.000
  • East North Central: 31.3 per 100,000
  • West North Central: 32.3 per 100.000
  • South Atlantic: 25.0 per 100.000
  • East South Central: 16.9 per 100,000
  • West Central South: 14.9 per 100,000
  • Mountain: 28.3 per 100.000
  • Pacific: 36.1 per 100.000

Concerns about the future: Which professions are most at risk?

The various professions are expected to be more vulnerable to shortcomings in the future. The Agency for substance abuse and mental health services estimates that by 2025 the US will have a shortage:

  • 10,470 weddings and family therapists (40,250 needed, 29,780 available)
  • 15,400 psychiatrists (60,610 available)
  • 26,930 mental health counselors (172,630 available) 145,700)
  • 48,540 social workers (157,760 available) 109,220
  • 57,490 psychologists (246,420 available)
  • 78,050 school counselors (321,500 available)

These deficiencies can be attributed both to weakening supply and rising demand. In general, professionals are getting older in these areas faster than they are being replaced by younger professionals. However, population growth and the extension of insurance cover indicate that a larger number of people will seek psychiatric care in the future.

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