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Mental health is health. The last few years navigating and surviving a pandemic has reminded the world that our health must be prioritized. However, shortages in the workforce are causing waves of concern and alarm at the state of healthcare in the United States. 

Over one-third of Americans live in designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, which have fewer mental health providers than the minimum their population would need. Thus, mental health workforce shortages impact an estimated 132 million Americans. We must find a way to solve this issue. It is causing too many people to have their health and wellness jeopardized, but it is beyond complicated. 

The nature of the problem is multifaceted. So the best viable solution must also cover all bases. Each part of the potential solution comes with its own array of issues so it is not going to be a quick and easy fix… time is running out.

One of the more obvious solutions involves recruitment of more mental healthcare clinicians. That obviously takes time to train and equip more people to be able to adequately treat patients. The key is to let the field grow naturally, but since that growth gets stunted by lack of awareness and stigma, the solutions must go beyond haphazard rapid recruitment and cute infographics.

Technology plays a key role here, especially telehealth services. Telemedicine saw a swift rise in the early days of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to social distancing requirements, but it is here to stay. And that’s a good thing… mostly.

While telehealth allows for mental health care seekers in rural or medically underserved areas direct access to clinicians, it will not solve the problem by itself. The biggest barrier for telehealth services to provide an even broader scale of relief in combating the shortages is licensing. 

Since each state regulates its own legislation on the practice of medicine and therapy (and thus telehealth), the idea of an available clinician from one state providing healthcare services to a patient in another state which has a workforce shortage is way more difficult than it should be.

Licenses are necessary for distinguishing a clinician to have the authority to practice. However, until there’s a bigger push and implementation of a national license or even options for out-of-state licenses are made available via reciprocity, the huge barrier to resolving the provider shortage will remain. We want to shout out to PSYPACT for being on the front edge for psychologists. But what about the rest of us?

In the meantime, we need a workaround that’s legal for clinicians and accessible for the public. How about a mindfulness-centered network for mental health integration that offers support, insight, perspectives, and shared-experiences. (SIPS, if you will.) MHint is that solution.

Instead of direct care, MHint is a safe and strengthening online community that anyone can access to gain supplemental help from both trained clinicians and other like-minded mental health care seekers. While the barriers to accessing care are high (and unfortunately not going to suddenly vanish), we are building solutions to integrate mental health and mindfulness into our lives in the in-between, regular moments. 

Avenues like MHint offer unique and amazing opportunities for connection and community; two things that reduce mental health stigma. We actively combat misinformation and disinformation using awareness, humanity, and factual information. After all, clinicians are people too 😄The best time to start investing in your mental health is always right now. And the rest of the country needs help, too. Learn more about all things concerning mental health integration into our modern lifestyles at HelloMHint.com.

Find us wherever you are.