Kansas seeing shortage of mental health professionals

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KANSAS — A growing shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers across the country is making it harder for people struggling with mental illness to get help.

Stacey Manbeck, Executive Director Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, said, “We’ve seen a 46% increase in the clients that we’ve served since 2018. That’s a pretty drastic increase.”

Kansas is seeing an increase in people seeking mental health treatment.

“We’re really trying to raise more awareness statewide that it’s ok to seek treatment.”

Right now, there is a shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers.

“We have faced an alarming shortage.”

Eric Thomason, Director Of Behavioral Health Services, Community Health Center SE Kansas, said, “Psychiatry is difficult to find. Psychology is difficult to find.”

Data from the federal government suggests only 9 of the counties in Kansas have enough psychiatrists.

“It is a pretty significant problem for Kansas.”

According to the state’s board of healing arts, there are 431 psychiatrists licensed to practice.

A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates at least 53 more are needed.

“What we’ve been relying on a lot for psychiatry coverage is psychiatric nurse practitioners which in the state of Kansas still require a collaborative agreement with a psychologist.”

In 2017, Kansas passed a law adding psychiatry to the state’s medical graduate student loan program.

“Which has really helped, well as, loosen some of the restrictions on clinical license through the behavioral sciences regulatory board.”

“If we’re adequately treating these depressed folks, anxious folks, these people with more persistent mental illness. The total, and burden’s a terrible word to use, but the total need for those folks are going to decrease.”

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