Hospital and Health System Association

New report: PA lags in mental health provision

Posted on June 11, 2018

PA lags in number of mental health providers: report

Pennsylvania lags behind the national average for access to mental health care providers, according to Hospital and Health System Association’s analysis of data from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The availability of mental health professionals, including therapists, psychiatrists and drug-and-alcohol counselors, also varies greatly from county to county, the interactive report shows. (The Greater Philadelphia area has a higher number of mental health professionals than most of the rest of the state.)

This is a problem for people who need help and who may get discouraged if it isn’t available, said Robert Shipp, vice president of population health strategies at the association.

“Once they’ve acknowledged that they’re ready to receive treatment, you’ve got to be ready to connect them with those services,” Shipp said.

The problem is often worse in rural counties like Perry, Mifflin, Franklin and Adams, where people might have to travel hours to see a therapist, Shipp said.

Shipp says his organization, which advocates for the health care industry, hopes to shine a light on the need for more specialists and develop new strategies for connecting people to mental health services.

“It starts a conversation as to, what are some of those contributing factors?” he said. “Is it economic barriers? Is it educational barriers? What is it that is contributing to the need?”

Shipp pointed to telemedicine as one way to fill the gap in services until more providers are available. Patients should also consult with primary care doctors, who sometimes have experts on hand to help with behavioral health issues.

Click here to view the interactive, online report.

https://www.haponline.org/Initiatives/Population-Health/Pennsylvania-Population-Health-Dashboard


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