A recent policy brief published by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health summarizes the current state of Texas’s mental health workforce. As of last year, 185 Texas counties out of 254 did not have a single psychiatrist, which left more than 3 million Texans without access to a psychiatrist. Worse, 40 counties didn’t even have a licensed clinical social worker.
The report, The Texas Mental health Workforce: Continuing Challenges and Sensible Strategies, states that a number of variables converge to create mental health workforce challenges including an aging mental health workforce, the unwillingness of mental health providers to accept patients with Medicaid, inadequate reimbursement rates, insufficient internship sites and residency slots, insufficient retention and recruitment practices, linguistic and cultural barriers, and more.
Yet another issue, the composition of the psychiatric workforce in Texas does not mirror the Texas population. Only 9.8% of psychiatrists in Texas are Latino/a and 5.7% are Black. Nearly 40% of the Texas population is Latino/a and 11.5% is Black.
According to the report’s authors, there are strategies that can improve mental health care in the state:
- Create a comprehensive strategic plan for mental health and substance use workforce development
- Improve integrated healthcare
- Improve training of primary care physicians
- Evaluate and improve mental health reimbursement rates
- Improve access to support services provided by certified peer specialists
- Expand funding for loan repayment programs, internship and residency slots
- Expand use of technology including telehealth and telemedicine
- Evaluate reciprocity and scope of practice rules to ensure maximum utilization of providers
To download a full copy of the report, visit the public policy section of the Hogg Foundation website.
The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research, and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.