There’s a Shortage of Mental-Health Professionals in the U.S.

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Side profile of a psychologist writing on a note pad after examining a female patient
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So this explains why it’s so hard to find a decent therapist: We are in the midst of a mental-health-professional shortage, reports the Washington Post. It’s mostly an issue of supply and demand. As part of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans than ever are eligible for mental-health coverage, and yet fully half of counties across the nation currently have no mental-health professionals at all, Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, tells the Post

The southern and western states have the highest rates of mental illness, and yet these areas tend to have the worst access to mental-health care. But mental health is a problem all across the U.S., of course, and it’s more prevalent than you might expect. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 43 million American adults — that’s about 20 percent of the population — will experience mental illness in a given year. 

The mental-health-professional shortage is part of a larger ongoing problem with health-care providers in the U.S., as the number of physicians — especially primary-care doctors — is shrinking, too, likely because of a lack of adequate government reimbursement for expenses, the Post reports. In short, if you live in the U.S. and have a good therapist, consider yourself very lucky.