A recent article in the Boston Globe highlights a trend in Massachusetts that is both troubling as well as revealing… Massachusetts does not have enough mental care professionals to cover the needs of the state.
Nationally, psychiatric hospitals have been offering fewer spaces for patients with a trend toward treating them in outpatient or emergency care facilities. Massachusetts has gone in the opposite direction by creating new long-term psychiatric treatment facilities, yet they still face the serious problem of not being able to find the qualified staff to keep up with demand. Not only are these hospitals running below capacity (even though there is definitely a need for them) they also aren’t able to take on the most challenging cases because they just don’t have the required staff for it.
TaraVista Behavioral Health Center in Devens MA, for example, has only opened 30 of its 108 beds for patients. The center’s chief executive, Michael Krupa, says they are having trouble finding qualified staff even after increasing starting salaries by 20% and offering signing bonuses.
With new laws requiring insurance companies to cover mental health needs, more facilities are seeing a monetary advantage to fill in the gaps in care. The problem now is in staffing. While the Boston Globe article focuses on trends in Massachusetts, they also mention other states with needs to staff mental health facilities, like Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, California, Texas, and Florida.
And even though the article often cites the need for more psychiatrists in particular (they note that the number of “psychiatrists in the United States fell by 10 percent between 2003 and 2013”), they also point out the need for qualified mental health staff at all levels, pointing to a need nation-wide for graduates in this field.
The take-away for students interested in psychology, psychiatry or other mental health careers? There are jobs waiting for you – and they need you now!