Demand for Mental Health Care in State May Not Be Met in 2010, Study Finds
Demand for mental health care in California could rise by as much as 30% in this decade, and there may not be enough mental health professionals to fill the need, according to a study released Monday by the California Workforce Initiative of the University of California-San Francisco Center for the Health Professions. The following are some of the results of the study, titled "The Mental Health Workforce: Who's Meeting California's Needs?" and funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the California Endowment:
- The state will need as many as 80,000 mental health professionals by 2010; there are currently 63,000 licensed mental and behavioral health workers, more than half of whom are marriage or family therapists or licensed clinical social workers.
- The percentage of nurses working in mental health settings fell by 33% between 1990 and 1997.
- Psychiatrists may be "in short supply" in 2010. More than 50% of the state's psychiatrists are over age 55, and increasingly fewer residents are choosing psychiatry.
- The state could see an "oversupply" of psychologists, particularly in "wealthy areas," where they are more heavily concentrated.
- Mental health professionals are disproportionately concentrated in urban areas.
In other CHCF news, the foundation last week announced that it has awarded a one-year, $161,000 grant to the California Society of Thoracic Surgeons to implement Internet-based collection and reporting of coronary artery bypass graft surgery data. The grant helps hospitals and surgeons in the state to comply with SB 680, which requires public reporting, and to compare their performance with that of other hospitals and surgeons. About 30,000 CABG surgeries are performed annually in California (CHCF release, 1/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.