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Mental Health Professionals: Which States Do We Need to Help?

America has a serious issue with meeting the growing need for mental health services. While the number of people with serious mental health issues is rising, the number of new mental health professionals is declining. This has led to a supply and demand issue in the healthcare system, making it more difficult for people to get an appointment with a provider.

This can be incredibly frustrating and disappointing for Americans who need help, but it’s also difficult for the mental health providers whose phones are always ringing.. Often it’s people we need to turn away because we have no availability, don’t provide the specific services a client is looking for, or are unable to accept the client’s insurance. This puts providers in a rough spot as we are prevented from providing services to the very people we want to help and are spending countless hours answering phones that could be spent in appointments.  

The mental health crisis in America is widespread, with approximately 20% of Americans struggling with their mental health. However, not all states are suffering equally. Rural areas, low-income communities, and certain minority groups are more likely to be struggling with a mental illness and have lower access to the care they need. Part of the solution in addressing the struggling mental health of millions of Americans is to identify which areas need the most help and provide them with the resources they need to thrive.

Want to do your part in helping communities in crisis? Share your skills with Ravel Mental Health.

Which States Are Struggling the Most With Mental Health?

Mental health issues can have a significant impact on both individuals and the communities they live in. On a personal level, this can mean a decreased quality of life, the onset of chronic pain and other health issues, self-harm and suicide, substance use disorders, poverty, poor work or school performance, or incarceration.

On a larger scale, a high prevalence of mental health issues can increase crime, imprisonment rates, high school dropout rates, employment rates, homelessness, suicide, and drug abuse and overdose deaths. These factors can in turn contribute to mental illness in the community, creating a vicious cycle that can lead cities to a point of crisis.

To find a way out, these communities need intervention. Mental health professionals and facilities are necessary for turning the tables and helping people find treatment where they are. And America’s youth, a population at the highest risk of serious mental illness, drug abuse, and suicide, need early intervention.

Unfortunately, it’s often the cities and states that are struggling the most in America that receive the least amount of help. While the communities with the most resources and funds have the highest access to care, low-income communities lack the professionals and resources necessary to address mental illness and its consequences.

Rankings From Mental Health America

To look deeper into what states are experiencing the worst issues with mental health, we’re going to take a look at statistics from Mental Health America (MHA), a community-based nonprofit that gathers and reports yearly on extensive data on the prevalence of mental illness and access to care for adults and youth across America.

These reports rank each state according to several factors. For adults, these include the number of individuals with:

  • Any mental illness (AMI)
  • A substance abuse disorder in 2020
  • AMI who report an unmet need
  • AMI who did not receive treatment
  • AMI who did not receive treatment
  • A disability who could not see a doctor due to costs.

For youth, these rankings look at how many people 18 or under met the following criteria:

  • One major depressive episode (MDE) in 2020
  • A substance use disorder in 2020
  • Had a severe MDE
  • Had an MDE and did not receive mental health treatment
  • Had a severe MDE and received some consistent treatment
  • Children with private insurance that does not cover mental or emotional problems
  • Students with an identified emotional disturbance for an individualized education program

While MHA breaks down this data (which you can see in full here) into several categories, including data on adults and youth only, the prevalence of mental health, and access to care, when all the factors listed above are combined, the following states rank the lowest in the nation:

  • Nevada
  • Idaho
  • Alaska
  • Oregon
  • Colorado

MHA also pulls together a yearly report on the mental health workforce availability in different states, which compares the rate of mental health professionals for each location. While Massachusetts ranks the highest on this report with one provider for every 180 people in the state, Alabama ranks lowest with one provider for every 1100 people. The next lowest-ranking states include Texas, West Virginia, and Georgia.

How Can Mental Health Professionals Help Struggling States?

The mental health situation in America is complex and depends on several moving parts to improve, several of which require funding, policy, and educational changes that happen at a government level. However, there are ways mental health professionals can help increase efficiency and better meet the needs of their communities.

The internet has revolutionized mental healthcare, and while COVID-19 brought on many struggles for mental health professionals, the pandemic revealed how useful the right technologies and online tools could be for helping more people get access to care where they’re at. Telemedicine services, including teletherapy and telepsychiatry services can help bring mental healthcare to people who would not be able to travel to a provider otherwise.

Online scheduling platforms and therapist directories are other very useful tools for helping connect clients with providers who can help. However, many of the platforms in place today are not sufficiently meeting the needs of therapists and people looking for services. It can be difficult for clients to tell if a provider is currently accepting new patients, what services they provide, and what insurances they accept if any.

Ravel Mental Health is coming soon to Americans to help make accessing care for patients easier across the nation. This new online booking platform allows providers to create a welcoming, comprehensive platform and clearly lays out details like ethnicity, gender, languages spoken, insurance accepted, services offered, and more. It also is unique in that it offers providers and clients an easy way to communicate availability and book an appointment on the spot — limiting the number of phone calls you’ll need to process in a given day and reducing how many people you’ll need to turn away.

While this technology will be useful in every part of the country, it can make a big difference in the states who need it the most. Providers can free up more time to help clients by offloading some of the administrative burden, and Ravel Mental Health’s approachable design makes it that much easier for clients to find a provider that offers exactly what they’re looking for.

Mental health professionals carry a big burden, and it can be nearly impossible to help people while being a business owner, receptionist, and administrator all in one. Ravel Mental Health is on its way, and when it’s here, it’s sure to hit the ground running.

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