Expanding mental health services, a need for providers


POSTED: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 4:53pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 9:26pm

As KETK reported, our country is facing a critical shortage of primary care physicians and health professionals in East Texas are looking at another demand, which is mental health providers.

We know East Texas is a large medical center, but not a lot of focus on mental health and health professionals we spoke with say patients can't get the help they need.

Therapist Wade E. French in Tyler says, the number of people needing mental healthcare is growing.

It's another health care crisis and a problem not getting a lot of attention.

In a recent interview, President and Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun spoke of the problem.

"I don't want to minimize the importance of training people in mental health and that's something we are looking at right now we have just a severe shortage of mental health providers as we do of primary care physicians," says Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun.

French says, when he refers patients for a psychiatric evaluation they have to wait 4 to 6 months for an appointment.

He says, the mental healthcare providers in East Texas are overwhelmed, and most treatment and medication is not covered by insurance.

"It would probably be helpful if there was more coordination in and cooperation between the hospitals and university," says Wade French, Therapist.

Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun tells KETK, that's what the focus is right now at UT Health Northeast.

"Developing additional training programs in mental health and we are looking at trying to expand mental health services across the region," says Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun.

Dr. Calhoun says, right now it's even tough to recruit a child psychiatrist, another specialty severely needed.

National Institute of Mental Health reports, nearly half of all adults in the U.S.. will have a diagnosable mental health condition and will need treatment.

"But right now there's not a lot of that available and not a lot provided," says Wade French.

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