The need for more mental health professionals in Kansas

Local

WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – The demand is too high, there are not enough workers available, and the pay is too low — local mental health workers said with the rise in demand since COVID-19 hit added to the mix — we are on the verge of a crisis.

Mary Jones, the CEO of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, said currently in Kansas, there is only one behavioral health provider to every 510 people in the state. With the growing demand, therapists said they need more help.

“What national reports have shown is that by 2025 we actually could be in what would be considered a behavioral health crisis with workforce,” said Jones.

Jones said while their organization downsized during the pandemic, now they have openings for all levels of counselors and few applicants. One reason behind this is that the pay isn’t high enough.

“We have spent a lot of advocacy with the Kansas legislature this year to talk about the rates for behavioral health care services, and what they haven’t substantially increased since 2008,” said Jones.

Joan Tammany, the executive director of Comcare, said they have lost 19 master’s degree level clinicians, and getting those positions filled again is nearly impossible. “Our base salary for a clinician is $40,810 dollars, it’s not sufficient,” said Tammany.

Christina Granados is a therapist who has her own practice she said right now she has about 10 people on her 6-8 week waiting list. Granados said she had to accept that she can’t meet that high demand.

Granados is even using Facebook now to find referrals to help. While she sorts out the most in-need to make sure they can find help right now. The need remains strong.

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