Mental health care providers encourage people to reach out for help amid workforce shortages

Central Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS — The need for mental health care exceeds the workforce necessary to meet the demand, multiple local mental health professionals confirmed.

Jay Hamm, a clinical psychologist with the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, said the provider shortage was an issue before the pandemic hit.

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who said we had enough mental health providers,” Hamm said.

Hamm works in community mental healthcare and said they continue adding patients to their caseload, which he says differs from some private practices right now.

“There are a shortage of providers in the community in private practice,” Hamm said. “It’s difficult to find a private practice therapist because lots of those folks are able to kind of cap their caseload, and so then they put people on a waitlist saying, ‘we’re not accepting new patients at this time.’”

Chase Cotten, Executive Director at the Willow Center in Brownsburg, adds it is important these challenges to not discourage people from reaching out for help. In Hendricks County, 2018 data showed for every 100,000 people in the county, there were 81 providers.

“But that does not mean that those of us who are providing services are so overwhelmed that we can’t help,” Cotten said.

The Willow Center is welcoming new patients every day. They never closed their doors during the pandemic.

Hamm said the number of people seeking mental health help is encouraging.

“Despite that ratio, all of us are seeing clients,” Cotten said. “That gives me hope, right? The fact that there are many more people now, whether it be as a direct result of the pandemic or otherwise, are seeking help, that tells me that some of the shame and stigma of asking for help is starting to be reduced.”

There are many free resources on the state’s Be Well Indiana website. Hendricks County also has an online resource page, www.hendrickshealthpartnership.org.

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