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The Scarcity of Mental Health Services in Dallas, TX

Too often, mental illness isn't identified, much less treated for many years. Suffering students underperform at school and often are tagged as discipline problems. Afflicted adults miss work and wind up jobless. Many turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. As these situations spiral, entire families are thrown into chaos, and this is not okay.

The lack of mental health services in southern Dallas, whether for the indigent or the insured is among the most pernicious, yet invisible, issue that the city is currently facing.

One significant challenge in getting mental care to everyone who needs it is that the majority of Texas mental health providers are clustered in just five counties: Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis.

Of Texas’ 254 counties, 207 are designated as Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, and 241 counties have some level of shortage of behavioral health professionals. The most drastic shortages are in non-metropolitan areas, including East Texas, West Texas, the Panhandle, the Rio Grande Valley, and El Paso.

Providing other alternatives

To improve the wellness of Texans, an adequate and comprehensive workforce of skilled behavioral health professionals is essential. The Dallas Fire-Rescue has since launched its Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Teams, specially for trained individuals who will deal with mental-health related calls with a careful and compassionate eye toward solutions that doesn't involve patients ending up in jail cells.

Another key strategy to help bridge the gaps of mental health in both geographic coverage and provider type will be to rethink education and training for physicians and other health care professionals, as well as incentivizing practitioners who are in scarce supply to relocate and practice in Texas.

Texas currently ranks 33rd in the nation for psychiatric residency slots on a per capita basis, and is one of eight states that does not offer reciprocity or endorsement of physicians’ licenses from other states.

The costs of mental health disorders on Texans and their families are too high to ignore. Building an integrated system of prevention and early intervention services will help reduce those costs; but it will take a robust and skilled workforce to accomplish.

 

To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans for mental illness, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.

The costs of mental health disorders on Texans and their families are too high to ignore. Building an integrated system of prevention and early intervention services will help reduce those costs; but it will take a robust and skilled workforce to accomplish.

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