How can Washtenaw County’s shortage of mental health care providers be resolved?

This article is part of a series on mental health in Washtenaw County. This was made possible by funding from Washtenaw County’s Public Safety and Mental Health Conservation Millage.

According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmap from the University of Wisconsin Institute for Population and Health, Washtenaw County has 1 mental health provider per 160 inhabitants. estimated population is With approximately 370,000 people as of July 2021, approximately 2,300 mental health providers are available to residents of the county, placing the county in the 90th percentile of providers per capita nationwide. However, in recent years, as awareness of the health importance of behavioral problems has grown, there is one common denominator for those suffering from mental health problems and those seeking treatment: they need more providers.

“Recruiting and retention are separate, and salary levels are a big part of that,” says Nancy Baum. Health and Research Transformation Center in Ann Arbor. “If you line up all the different types of doctors for a fee, you’ll see them at the bottom. [that] The lowest paid physicians are pediatricians, primary care physicians, and psychiatrists. If you have a medical degree and you can do whatever you want with it, psychiatry isn’t necessarily what you’re going for. ”

In Michigan, according to Average Psychiatrist Salary about $241,000, Cardiothoracic Surgeon Average Salary – someone who specializes in heart, lungs and esophagus – is about $500,000. Average Clinical Mental Health Counselor In Michigan, a psychiatrist earns significantly less, at $52,420.

But financial problems go beyond salaries. Even though Medicaid is the largest payer for behavioral health services in the country, Baum noted that Medicaid payout rates are low enough that some providers don’t cover their patients. I’m here.

“That doesn’t apply to other specialties,” says Baum. “There is a real disconnect between what Medicaid pays and what behavioral health providers charge.”
Nancy Baum, director of health policy at the Center for Health and Research Transformation, said:
Baum also said some providers may only see patients covered by private insurance or allow patients to pay for the services they need out of pocket. I’m here.

Trish Cortez, Executive Director Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (CMH) echoes Baum’s view that recruitment and retention are two very different challenges.

“Here at CMH, we’ve historically been pretty competitive when it comes to hiring,” says Cortes. “But there are some areas that are more difficult to recruit. One of them is nursing in particular, especially when we have all these healthcare systems all around us.

That difficulty led CMH to contract with a recruitment agency to secure talent. Agencies have never had to, Cortes said.

“What we’re seeing is more and more people suddenly withdrawing from accepting offers because they’ve found another position with a better salary,” she says.
said Trish Cortes, executive director of Washtenaw County Community Mental Health.
CMH is an accredited community behavioral health clinic. This means CMH has no waiting period for a doctor to see a patient and can see a patient regardless of the level of mental health care she needs. Cortes describes CMH as “the front door.” Here, the patient may stay and receive treatment or be referred to another provider in the area, which may better suit the patient’s needs. Cortez says Washtenaw County is lucky to have a “strong group of prescribers” compared to most other areas.

“We’re also a training ground in prescription fields like psychiatry and nurse practitioners,” she says. Find the people you want.”

Being driven by a mission to help those in need appears to be one of the powerful remedies for this particular job shortage. hope clinichas highlighted a staff of over 1,000 volunteers.

“We doubled our mission and our culture,” said Campbell. “We attract certain people who are passionate about the mission and culture in which we live.”

Hope’s mission centers around the Zulu greeting ‘Sawbona’. This translates to “I’ll see you” and greets the entire person in the moment. Hope is the first free clinic to offer “whole person behavioral health care,” according to Campbell. In addition to providing free physical and mental health care services, we also provide dental and food needs such as grocery delivery and food pantries.
Hope Clinic CEO Doug Campbell.
Hope raises about $3 million annually to keep its doors open and is currently running a $5.5 million campaign to further expand its offerings. Campbell said his $2 million of these funds will be used for programs to integrate behavioral health care into all of Hope’s services.

“If you walk in for food service, there will be people who will immediately provide you with behavioral care,” Campbell said. If you need help, come here for Whole Person Care, and if you want to serve, fill out the Volunteer Form. website.”

Other incentives besides mission-driven motivation may help bring more mental health care practitioners into the field. will be Michigan Loan Repayment Program,and federal levelThese programs may reward mental health providers working in low-income or rural areas or in specific programs such as addiction and recovery services, pediatrics.

Behavioral health can be an emotionally challenging field to build a career on. But it’s just as important as physical health, and its emotional hardships make it all the more fulfilling for those who choose to pursue it.

“Most people want to help,” says Campbell. “Even if the motivation for the job is high pay, they want to help but don’t know how. At Hope, we give you the opportunity to serve.”

“I say [CMH] always staff [that] They work small miracles every day,” Cortes said. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a pretty inspirational piece. ”

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and has lived in Washtenaw County for many years. She believes Eastern needs to use her experience in journalism during her University of Michigan days to contribute to Eastern Her Echo and listen to Washtenaw County residents.

all photos Doug Combe.

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