Organizations outline solutions to the shortage of mental health professionals

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – Mental health specialists are seeking solutions to the state’s labor shortage, particularly in Fort Wayne.

It’s a known problem across Indiana and emerged when the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission sent its final report to the Indiana General Assembly. The report is 56 pages, including an in-depth examination of Indiana’s behavioral health system.

The need for more behavioral health and mental health specialists is listed, listing current challenges, obstacles, and potential solutions. The challenges mentioned include low wages and high case numbers leading to burnout.

Janel Lane, co-founder of Courageous Healing Incorporated, can attest to this.

“The demand is at an all-time high and the people who are getting into that space haven’t met the need right now,” Lane said. You can’t get a waitlist.”

According to Lane, it was difficult to balance caring for staff while trying to meet customers’ needs and demands. She remembers one day when Courageous Healing’s phone rang once every seven minutes and people wanted to log in.

Cheryl Shepherd, director of human resources at the Bowen Center, says they are experiencing burnout, larger caseloads and longer wait times.

“We see a lot of people who are driven by their mission to accomplish their mission, but they also have a lot of issues with burnout, and that’s hard to balance at times,” Shepherd said.

Lane says there is a great need for financial support. Now that seeking help for mental health issues is becoming more normal, she’s seeing more people wanting to get into the field. This comes with more associate-level interns and licensed specialists whose insurance does not allow them to be billed for their services, preventing them from continuing.

There are also things that come with getting a license, such as tutoring hours, that interns have to pay for out of pocket. Lane says some people can’t afford it.

So what can you do? The report proposes increasing Medicaid rates to support competitive hiring and retention, breaking down barriers by expanding the language of universal license recognition to behavioral health licenses, and providing funding for a student loan repayment program for behavioral health professionals who commit to work in Indiana and serve underserved communities.

Shepherd mentioned that she would welcome the offering of telehealth and phone services, as well as reimbursement rates.

“I really think it’s important to increase the rate of reimbursement that we receive for the services we provide in order to be able to attract and retain staff to provide quality services,” Shepherd said.

For now, Shepherd and Lane say their organizations have created systems that operate efficiently while still meeting current needs. According to Shepherd, the Bowen Center is focused on providing employees with the right care to control burnout.

“Providing all the services they need for their own self-care, mental health care and support,” Shepherd said, “and also ensuring they have the education and training they need to provide those services and continue to attract new talent.” recruit and find and find the people who are driven by the mission and can come along to fill that need as well.”

According to Lane, Courageous Healing implements a solution they developed, the six-session model, which aims to provide brief-term therapy and trauma-centered therapy.

“We tell our therapist to show themselves fully and authentically, which gives them permission to show themselves and be themselves, it helps people trust them, and then we get right to work, so it doesn’t take three to six sessions to build a relationship.” Lane said, “Clients, when we help them recover the cost of their counseling, they start with six sessions. If they need more, they can request more, but we want to make a difference within those six sessions.”

Lane says this system means they rarely have a waiting list and can get people the help they need faster.

“We have to stay on our toes and keep innovating as the problems change, needs change, demand changes, COVID has changed a lot of things and we need to be flexible in this area,” Lane said. Organizations outline solutions to the shortage of mental health professionals

Dais Johnston

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