For years, the U.S. has been facing a significant healthcare shortage. While these needs span across specialties, one that has come into sharp focus recently is mental health. “A number of factors have brought mental health to the center of the conversation,” says Kyle Mattice, President of ES Healthcare, a division of The Execu|Search Group. “Along with expanded coverage for mental health and substance abuse issues, social stigmas associated with mental illness are diminishing.”
As a result, the sheer volume of patients seeking help is unprecedented. This demand has already caused a backlog of patients at outpatient centers, behavioral health facilities, hospitals, and addiction centers across the United States. However, inner-city and rural areas have been hit particularly hard. “These facilities—especially those in urban and rural areas—are in serious need of healthcare professionals who can help mitigate the effects of this shortage,” explains Kyle. “From psychiatrists to physicians to nurses to social workers, there is a strong demand for behavioral health practitioners across the board for both clinical and nonclinical roles.”
All types of organizations are making a push to provide full-service care and incorporate mental health into their diagnostic, treatment and referral plans. As a result, regardless of your geographic location or specialization, healthcare professionals can take advantage of these opportunities with the following strategies:
Once again, in overpopulated urban areas as well as rural areas with few behavioral health practitioners, the demand for mental health care overwhelmingly outweighs the supply. As a result, professionals who branch out into telemedicine can help to mitigate this imbalance. “With videoconferencing technology, evaluations, medicine management, and ongoing therapy can all take place remotely,” says Kyle. “For healthcare professionals who take advantage of these opportunities, they will not only be able to service patients who are in need, but they can also restore some work-life balance to their career as they work remotely.”
As mental health comes to the forefront of the conversation, it is critical to remember that managing patients often requires ongoing care and therapy. As a result, it is important for all providers to work together to provide the most consistent experience for the patient. “In a collaborative care model, the psychiatrist will work in an advisory capacity for primary care providers, such as family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and social workers,” explains Kyle. “While the psychiatrist will oversee cases, consult on treatment plans, and see the most challenging patients, the primary care clinicians will be responsible for implementing the care.”
In this collaborative care model, healthcare professionals can be sure that they are providing consistent care for this growing need. “Sometimes healthcare professionals can feel as though they aren’t able to service their patients as well as they would like,” says Kyle. “But seeking opportunities where a collaborative care model is utilized can help to reassure all healthcare professionals involved that the best course of action is being taken for their patient.”
Pursuing leadership roles
As the number of opportunities continues to rise, so does the number of openings for leadership roles within mental health. “If you have been contemplating a move into a leadership role, there are more opportunities for behavioral health professionals than ever before—both academic and clinical,” says Kyle. “And rather than looking for applicants who are experienced at the leadership level, employers are very open to candidates without extensive leadership experience.” For professionals who have contemplated making a move, now is not the time to hesitate. Not only can these opportunities provide an excellent career boost, but those in leadership will make a real difference when it comes to combating the healthcare shortage and providing quality care.