Nevada’s Mental Health System

November 22, 2018

Suicide has been linked as the second-leading cause of death for individuals in the ages of 10-19 in the state of Nevada. This has strongly been linked to mental illness. According to a 2016 report by ReviewingThis, Nevada was ranked the last (51st place) in the nation to have access to mental health care.

Although the population of Nevada has greatly increased over the past two decades, the number of mental healthcare professionals has not. In order for treatment to improve, states need more psychiatrists who will be equally distributed to offer their services. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with Nevada. This and other issues like inadequate beds and funding has seen the mental health system in Nevada deteriorate. For this reason, there has been a call for various solutions such as brain supplements to solve and prevent existing and future mental health problems.

Nevada Has Been Short of Psychiatrists

Historically, there have not been enough psychiatrists and social workers in Nevada. Although other states in the nation have had this issue, they have come up with ways to meet the needs of their patients. For instance, while there are 32 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts, there are 7 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents in Nevada.

Also, budgets for some mental health programs in this state were slashed years after the recession. According to former director of Nevada’s Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, Chuck Duarte, having inadequate behavioral health care providers causes a big problem. This is because when mental illness patients do not get their routine medication, they act out and are likely to end up in jail.

Over the years, Nevada has been seen struggling to increase the number of psychiatrists by streamlining the licensing process. They aim to allow professionals from other states to work in Nevada. Also, in 2017, a 285,000 budget was proposed to cater for the yearlong psychology internship program for the next two years.

Private Mental Hospitals Play a Role

Another problem contributing to the poor mental health system in Nevada is the lack of beds. Dr. Lesley Dickson, a psychiatrist in Nevada, says that hospital beds were not needed before since most patients needed outpatient care. Over the years, the number of patients with mental illness grew, and this made the situation deteriorate.

A lot of private mental hospitals are coming up to fill the gap. The function has shifted towards private care providers who are paid using the federal Medicaid dollars. The shift from state-funded services to private providers came about in 2012 when Republican Gov. Brain Sandoval came up with The Affordable Care Act that called for Medicaid. The Medicaid program covers individuals in the poverty level.

Nevada is just one of the states that have expanded their Medicaid program in order to get more individuals insured. Even with this, most adults and children are going to other states like Utah, Texas and Colorado to get therapy for their mental illness. State lawmakers rejected cuts to the mental health funding proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval restored funding to some programs and passed measures to make it easier for patients to access health care. These changes could play a major role in reviving the mental health care system in Nevada.

Nevada’s mental health system has been in dire straits due to an increasing number of residents with mental illness not receiving treatment. This is caused by a large shortage of care providers. However, over the years, there has been a big shift in the mental health system with lawmakers coming up with effective strategies to get more professionals licensed to work in Nevada in order to increase access to medical care.

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