The Lone Star state is famous for many things, great food, guns, and high school football. In many ways, life in Texas is great. Housing prices are more affordable in many of its cities, and it can overall be a great place to raise a family.
With that said, some areas, such as mental health, are in a particularly sorry state. According to a recent study by Forbes, Texas managed to top the list in a ranking of states with the worst mental health care in the country.
In today’s article, we are going to explore why mental health care in Texas has gotten so bad. We will also look at what can be done to remedy the situation.
What Are The Factors That Have Contributed to Poor Mental Health Care in Texas?
There are obviously multiple factors that have created the situation that Texas finds itself in. Remember that it is a large state, and these factors can vary widely from city to city.
Texas also has a lot of rural areas, which brings its own unique issues when it comes to mental health care. With that said, here are some of the most persistent factors that can be observed.
Poor Income For Practitioners: A low salary is one of the chief reasons that make it difficult to attract and retain mental health professionals in the state. This also exacerbates the existing shortage of mental health providers. The annual salary in Texas can be as low as $22,000 for a Clinical Therapist, which is shockingly bad. The average salary isn’t that much better, at $48,500.
Financial Costs For the Mentally Ill: You would think that low salaries for therapists would imply a more accessible experience for potential clients, but this isn’t the case. Each session can set you back about $100 on average, and this fee can go as high as $200 if you are looking for experienced therapists.
Texas has a high rate of uninsured individuals (18%), which includes those who do not have insurance that covers mental health services. This means that many mental health practitioners have to charge higher fees to make up for the lack of reimbursement from insurance companies.
High-Stress For Practitioners: Many mental health practitioners in Texas work in underfunded public health systems or in private practices where the pressure to see more patients generate revenue can be intense.
Finding a therapist in Texas that hasn’t been affected by burnout, compassion fatigue, and other forms of mental and physical exhaustion is rare. The pressure that some of them experience to take on more clients just to make ends meet can be severely draining.
According to Zencare, such work stress can cause therapists to feel overwhelmed, anxious and also worsen their performance at work.
As a result, a lot of mental health practitioners leave the field due to burnout, and some choose to leave Texas altogether. They may choose to work in states where mental health practitioners are better supported.
What Can Be Done To Improve Mental Health Care in Texas?
While it may seem like the situation is dire, it is not without hope. There are a number of steps that can be taken to raise the state out of its mental health care crisis. Let’s look at three of the most effective ways to do so.
Expand Medicaid Coverage: Currently, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured individuals in the country, with about 18% of its population lacking health insurance. This means that many people with mental health issues are unable to afford treatment and are left to struggle on their own. Expanding Medicaid coverage would bring in federal funds of $5 billion, which could radically improve access to mental health care.
Train More, Pay More: Many new graduates are deterred from pursuing careers in mental health due to the high cost of education and low salaries. Young students are often advised by their peers and even teachers to avoid the field due to poor pay and terrible working conditions. It thus makes sense that improving these areas would encourage more people to join the field and stay in Texas.
Integrate Mental Health Services into Primary Healthcare: This is a strategy that has been shown to improve access to mental healthcare and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services.
One approach is to have mental health providers work in primary care clinics alongside medical providers. This can allow for more seamless collaboration between medical and mental health providers. Telehealth is also another approach that can allow patients to receive mental health services remotely.
Texas faces a critical mental health crisis with a multitude of factors that contribute to the situation. The state’s mental healthcare system faces many challenges due to a shortage of mental health professionals, high rates of uninsured individuals, and low salaries for mental health professionals.
However, the situation can improve quickly if policymakers take the necessary steps. If Texas can start investing more in mental health care, it can build a brighter future for its residents and ensure that everyone has access to the support they need.