Nurses offer to help overcome shortage of mental healthcare workers

Nurses offer to help overcome shortage of mental healthcare workers

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health disorders every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in a given year, at least 1 in 5 Americans grapple with a mental illness, which corresponds to 47.6 million people. However, approximately 57 percent of American adults dealing with a mental illness do not receive treatment. While some choose not to seek treatment due to the social stigma associated with mental health, others cannot afford it.

However, the most common reason for Americans not receiving mental health treatment is lack of mental healthcare workers. The ratio of individuals to mental health professionals is 6:1 in states that have the lowest workforce. These mental health professionals comprise of social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and psychiatric nurses. The shortages stem from growing demand and declining supply. The professionals in this field are aging at a higher rate than being replaced by the younger population. Nevertheless, expanding insurance coverage and population growth suggests that a high number of individuals will be required to tend to the mental health requirements of the country.

Nurses offer to help

To help overcome this shortage, nurses from all over the country have come together and offered to provide all the help they can. However, their offer cannot be culminated into a concrete plan because of the current state laws. Speaking on the issue, Gail Stern, president of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and administrator of the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s department of psychiatry, said that a psychiatric nurse is also qualified to provide mental health care and therefore, one does not need to wait for an appointment with a psychiatrist only. In fact, APNA has published a report highlighting the roles and responsibilities of psychiatric nurses and the need to make them more publicly available.

Nurses registered under the Psychiatric-Mental Health (PMH) are certified professionals with more than two years of experience in the mental health field and over 2,000 hours of active duty. Advanced practice nurses are also PMH nurses and are trained to diagnose mental illnesses, provide psychotherapy, and even prescribe medicines. Although, currently 21 sates of the country allow PMH advanced practice nurses to prescribe medications, some states like New Jersey still require a supervisor signature on prescriptions rolled out by these nurses.

United effort-need of hour

Presently, there are 26,000 certified psychiatrists in the country out of which most are approaching retirement. To be a certified psychiatrist one must go through four years of medical school plus five years of residency. Also, as per federal law, only 1400 psychiatry residencies are allowed each year. Speaking on the shortage of professionals, Jed Magen, president of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry (AACDP), said that there is a huge shortage of mental health workers in the country which includes social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

Furthermore, he went on to add that there will never be enough psychiatrists in the country which is why it is important to work together with professionals from other areas of expertise such as nurses. Several others like Magen suggest a team-based treatment approach based on the patient’s level of need.

Mental health treatment

Nurses are considered to be the heart of healthcare. In fact, nursing has been declared as the most trusted occupation in America since the past 23 years. Working together with psychiatric nurses and allowing them greater scope of practice will help in bridging the impact of mental health illnesses amongst the minorities. Due to barriers like high cost of treatment, language problems, and general mistrust, minority communities in America have a large number of people who do not receive treatment for mental health disorders.

Mental health disorders are nothing to feel guilty or embarrassed about. They are treatable and highly manageable. With the help of proven scientific methods and evidence-based treatment modalities, patients have achieved long-term recovery enjoying a happier and productive life despite of suffering from mental disorders.

If you need assistance in dealing with a mental health disorder that is hampering your day-to-day life, then simply pick up a phone and call California Mental Health Helpline. We provide reliable information about reputed mental health treatment centers in California. Call our 24/7 mental health helpline (855) 559-3923 or chat online with one of our representatives to discuss your options for mental health treatment in California.