Mental health care professionals are in demand as the entire state experiences a mass shortage

Clinics are looking to fill positions for therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:31 PM CST
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TEXAS (KWTX) - Statewide, Texas is experiencing a shortage of mental health care professionals.

The shortage, ranging from therapists to psychiatrists and social workers is straining both the patient and the professional.

Nowadays, being aware of your mental health, is at the front of people’s minds in the workplace, at school and at home.

Because of this, the demand for care now outweighs the supply.

Just hire more professionals you may think…but that can be a lot pricier than we assume.

“The cost can be extra and over the top, some people leaving out of their PhD programs at way over $100,000 in school debt,” said Dr. Kristy Donaldson, owner of Premier Neurofeedback & Counseling Services, PLLC.

While required for some qualifications, a PhD is not required to become a licensed professional counselor or social worker.

On top of thousands in school debt, once you graduate, there’s more to do before you can see your first client.

“The exam to become a psychologist is really difficult. It’s been really difficult to pass and it’s taking people multiple times at the tune of close to $700 each time,” said Dr. Donaldson.

Back in 2016, the Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan noted that 80% of the state qualified as professional shortage areas.

Seven years and one pandemic later, the number of available mental health care professionals hasn’t improved much.

“You can really see where a shortage of mental health professionals becomes more than just a problem at the individual level when you’re dealing with issues that come back to the community and society as a whole like domestic violence and homelessness,” said Suzanne Armour, Director of Programming with Families in Crisis.

Armour works with Families in Crisis to combat things like domestic violence and PTSD in veterans, often referring the people she helps to a mental health professional.

“It could have a significant impact on accessibility to mental health services that are necessary for survivors working through trauma-based issues as a result of abuse, PTSD, depression and anxiety,” said Armour.

Professionals estimate it could be years before the field is back on track.

988 Oklahoma Mental Health Lifeline
988 Oklahoma Mental Health Lifeline(PRNewswire)