State and local organizations tackle lack of mental health resources in OC
COLORADO SPRINGS – State legislatures are investing heavily in the mental health of Coloradans. Right now, they are deciding how to spend $ 450,000,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding.
News5 spoke with Dr. Mark Mayfield, Founder and CEO of Mayfield Consulting Centers, located in Colorado Springs. He explained how some of this money could be of benefit to help mental health professionals and clients seeking help.
Dr Mayfield says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for services has increased and Colorado is also experiencing a huge shortage of mental health professionals. This is where this funding can help.
“We’ve always seen a workforce shortage in Colorado from a mental health perspective. In my office, for the first time in our history, we have a waiting list. We have always been proud to answer the phone and have appointments. the same week or within seven days, and we can’t do it anymore because of the need. Our phone is ringing off the hook, ”said Dr Mayfield, who said this was mainly due to the lack of space in his office, not allowing him to hire more people.
Dr Mayfield also referred to the new advice from US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy to highlight the urgent need to tackle the country’s youth mental health crisis. It was released on December 7.
Colorado also has the highest rate of adult mental illness and the lowest access to care in the country, according to Mental Health America.
“I think it’s great that we’re bringing this to our attention. I just want people to understand that this need will only increase, so if we can figure out how to move forward in a positive way now, that sets the stage for. success, ”said Dr Mayfield.
According to an article and a Colorado News Collaborative survey, nearly 40% of Coloradans also live in an area where there is a shortage of behavioral health workers. The article also said that since the start of the pandemic, visits to youth mental health emergency departments have jumped 70% and calls to crisis hotlines statewide have increased by 40%.
However, $ 450 million in federal assistance could help solve some of these problems.
“There has to be some part of the state that says we see you, we appreciate you, you’ve really helped a lot of people get through this pandemic, and we want to find ways to take care of you,” said the Dr Mayfield. “I’m really grateful for this funding and I’m really grateful to our governor and the government for truly putting behavioral health at the forefront of our needs. I think they understand the issues we face.”
Dr Mayfield says being a mental health professional can be a very stressful job and one that many people are leaving now. Her small office schedules between 18,000 and 20,000 appointments per year and takes nearly 50 phone calls per week. But one of the biggest challenges providers face, he says, is gender parity in mental health.
“We are not reimbursed equally as mental health care providers from different health care providers, who have similar training and experience. So when a health care provider can be reimbursed at $ 120 for one session, we are reimbursed at $ 60. Dr. Mayfield said. “Many people in this profession have stopped taking Medicaid because Medicaid does not reimburse well in this condition. Improve access and then take care of mental health care providers as well.”
Dr. Mayfield also sits on the Colorado Counseling Association as president-elect. He says the board is working to bring in a bill that looks at gender parity in mental health. He mentioned that in order for mental health professionals to take care of clients, staff also need to be looked after.
“I love what we do and everyone here loves what we do. Everyone I talk to loves it. It’s just that there are these challenges that we face, ”said Dr Mayfield. “It’s just part of the game and figuring out how to be an advocate and a voice for the profession.”
Ideas are also shared on providing incentives to develop the working group. For example, providing opportunities from high school and college, such as job fairs and shadowing internships.
For more information on Mayfield Counseling Centers, click here.