Southern States Top List of Worst Places for Mental Health Care in U.S.

Whether or not mental health care is readily available to you depends a lot on where you live, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. It turns out that many states have a shortage of mental health care providers, leaving a big gap between people who need counseling, medical care from a psychiatrist, and other services and the ability to get it.

The 10 worst states for access to mental health care are Idaho, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Nevada. On the flip side, if you live in Vermont, Massachusetts, Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, South Dakota, or the District of Columbia, you should have no problem finding a qualified professional to help you.

Various Reasons for the Shortage

There's no single reason for why services are more plentiful in New England but lacking in parts of the South and West. The article attributes long training time for psychiatrists who must go through medical school, and high turnover in many mental health-related positions as two likely barriers.

Ironically, the shortage comes at a time when changes in health care laws give more people access to mental health coverage under their insurance benefits. They just can't find providers.

If you're looking for a nearby provider, this therapist search might help. If you're not sure about the different types of therapy offered by various mental health professionals, this article explains several options. If you'd like to know the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, this American Psychological Association document spells it out.

Other Options for Help

If you can't find in-person help, some counselors offer online sessions. If you choose this option, make sure your insurance will pay for it and that the counselor is properly licensed.

Support groups are an alternative to one-on-one sessions. They include in-person groups, online forums, and virtual meetings. HealthFinder.gov has some tips on finding online support for a variety of issues and disorders, from alcoholism to depression to parenting. Take advantage of these resources even if you don't have access to a professional. The support will help tide you over until you can get into therapy.