Arizona Mental Health Provider Shortages
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Areas Without Access to Mental Health Services
Across the United States there are a multitude of regions designated by the federal government as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). These are areas with little-to-no access to health-related services because there are no nearby providers. The government draws attention to these areas to improve access to primary care, dental, and mental health providers. This makes sense, as they have to identify these regions as struggling before they can find solutions to help them. In my research I was not surprised, but still disheartened by, how many areas in my state have so little access to behavioral health services. The list below includes 21 regions, designated as mental health HPSAs in the state of Arizona.
Arizona Mental Health HPSAs
As of 2017, the following Arizona cities, towns, and municipalities were designated as mental health HPSAs: Kingman, Morenci, Parker, Payson, Quartzsite, Rio Rico, Safford, Show Low, Snowflake/Heber, Springerville/Eagar, Thatcher, Willcox, Bowie, Williamson, Ajo, Colorado City, Douglas, Pirtleville, Globe, Golden Valley, Grand Canyon Village, Nogales, and Winslow. It is important to note that all of these locations are generally considered rural. One way that helping to identify these areas has helped is that it has forced insurance companies to provide coverage for telehealth services.
I grew up in a city that still does not have a mental health crisis line. Early in my career, I also witnessed the kind of harm these shortages can cause firsthand. I once had a client whose mother had to be flown out of Showlow to Flagstaff just because of the shortage of medical providers there. To my knowledge, they don't have flights to nearby mental health providers unless you live in Alaska. That is why I'm excited to be a part of this solution to limited behavioral health providers across my state. Being a part of the solution is why I chose a career in mental health in the first place.