Lack of psychiatrists hits mental health patients

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A nationwide shortage of psychiatrists is forcing many mentally ill Indiana patients to wait months for an appointment.

The Health Resources and Services Administration reports more than half the state’s counties have a shortage of mental health professionals. The Journal & Courier has found there is just one psychiatrist for every 57,585 residents in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties.

The shortage stems in part from low reimbursement rates by insurance companies. A private psychiatrist will make more money by refusing to accept insurance. But even that pool is shrinking. More than 25 percent of psychiatrists are poised to retire in the next decade, and few medical school graduates are pursuing that field.

Hospitals and clinics are trying to adapt by recruiting constantly and even flying in temporary physicians.

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