Existing Behavioral Health Needs Are Compounded by COVID
Consider these pre-pandemic statistics from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
Now imagine that scenario compounded by the current COVID crisis:
While it’s impossible to envisage precisely how this pandemic will affect the mental health of our nation over the long-term, as the dust from the initial impact begins to settle, it is increasingly clear that our nation’s collective mental well-being is particularly vulnerable at this time. Long-term behavioral health implications are beginning to emerge, and it appears that behavioral health services are needed now, more than ever.
Behavioral Health Professionals Are Life Savers
Healthcare professionals on the frontlines of COVID are saving lives every day. But they’re not alone: psychiatrists and other behavioral health professionals are in the fight with them, working hard to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our nation.
Behavioral health professionals provide essential services that save lives, and their work is not without its challenges. They lead countless patients out of the battle against opioids, alcohol, and other substances. They bravely face the suicide crisis. They contend with limited access to mental health services. They fight to reduce the stigma around mental illness. But through it all, they muster their resolve and keep charging forward to help their patients move toward overall health.
Behavioral Health Shortages – The Hotspots
The shortage of mental healthcare professionals is growing. The facilities in greatest need of behavioral health professionals, as reported by the Department of Health and Human Services Health Workforce Shortage Areas, include:
- Correctional facilities
- Federally qualified health centers
- Indian health services
- Rural health clinics
- State mental hospitals
Many Americans who need behavioral health services are unable to access them. Groups currently most in need of mental health services according to the HHS report are:
- Low-income populations
- Homeless populations
- Migrant farmworkers
- Medicaid-eligible populations
Further, as noted by SAMHSA, there are disparities in behavioral healthcare access for:
- Racial and ethnic minority groups
- The LGBTQ community
- Military service members and veterans
- Rural residents
States with the greatest shortage of mental health professionals according to the HHS report are:
- New York
- North Carolina
Call in the Reinforcements
How can health leaders combat not only the existing challenges of an overburdened, understaffed behavioral health system, but also the growing threats to mental health posed by COVID-19? In addition to implementing these strategies for behavioral healthcare professionals and facility administrators, leaders can bring in locums as reinforcements.
Use locums support to rest your weary staff. Rotate your permanent providers off of the battlefield, give them time to recuperate, and take measures to support their health and wellbeing.
Bring services back online safely with vetted professionals while you consider long-term rebuilding needs.> Fill in with qualified providers as you develop strategic plans and avoid rushing to commit to permanent roles until you’re prepared.
Fortify telehealth services with locums behavioral health professionals. Locums providers can help you expand access to services through virtual therapy and psychiatric care.
Target communities in need. Consider how you can use locums support to ease the burden for facilities in underserved communities, the correctional system, rural counties, and areas that have been hard hit by the COVID pandemic.
Locums Can Bring Efficiency, Stability and Direct Support
Needs may be high and finances limited, but take heart! Shoring up your staff with locums is an efficient and effective solution for finding critical direct support while the healthcare industry stabilizes. When you partner with Cross Country Locums, a trusted ally in the health talent arena, you’ve got nothing to lose.