More than half of the mental health professionals who work with children in Massachusetts plan to leave the state or the field in the next five years, according to a workforce capacity report released today.
The report, commissioned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, is based on a survey of mental health providers and interviews with stakeholders across the state. Massachusetts has a higher ratio of psychiatrists and other professionals for its population compared to national averages, but about a third of practices are full and another four in 10 say they have openings for only one or two more patients. Families say they have a hard time finding a clinician and practitioners say recruiting more providers is difficult.
Some of the providers who said they plan to leave are near retirement age, but four in 10 under age 35 also say they plan to leave Massachusetts or the profession. New providers are projected to come in at a rate of 25 to 30 percent over the next five years, so their numbers may not be enough to replace those who are leaving, the report said.
Some of the problems providers cited include low rates of reimbursement for their services, administrative burdens, and unpaid time spent on coordinating care for their patients.
"In many ways, Massachusetts is at the dawn of a new era of commitment to children's mental health services," the report said, pointing to recent moves to expand the workforce to paraprofessionals and increase screening and treatment. "It will be critical to continue to improve our understanding of th workfoce and safety net provider capacity."
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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