Dueling Opinions: What’s challenging access to mental health services?


What are some other systemic issues that have been long-term challenges for mental healthcare access?

Coughlin: No. 1 has been workforce, workforce, workforce. We compete against the physical care side, the acute-care side of med-surg hospitals and others. And because we have historically been under-reimbursed across the board, whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid, commercial, you name it, our folks are at a disadvantage in competing for talent. … And of course the workforce shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Paharia:We’re seeing demand for behavioral health services going up, but there is lack of capacity. So wait lists are increasing, meaning that individuals aren’t getting timely access to needed treatment. Behavioral health organizations are having trouble recruiting and retaining employees. Some of the recruiting challenges are just the applicant pool, and the retention challenges have to do with significant provider burnout.

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