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  • Practice Solutions

Mental Health Crisis in Iowa


Main Points

  • The floods in Iowa have caused a mental healthcare shortage in rural or small areas

  • Providers are hesitant to move to rural areas for a number of reasons

  • There are a variety of reasons why farmers and rural citizens are hesitant or reluctant to seek needed care

According to a report by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, "Iowa does not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, or other mental health care providers to handle the increasing need to care for farmers dealing with relentless flooding this year".

The floods in Iowa have caused a mental healthcare shortage in rural or small areas, but for some reasons you may not expect.

Eight of the counties hit by flooding this year have not received special designation by the Health and Resources Service Administration as being a mentalh healthcare provider shortage. This affects the following counties:

  • Cass

  • Dallas

  • Fremont

  • Mills

  • Montgomery

  • Page

  • Polk

  • Pottawattamie

The designation as a shortage area would encourage younger providers to move toward these areas in an effort to provide better access to care.

According to several interviews conducted by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, there is currently a six to eight week wait period to receive necessary services.

However, providers are reluctant to move to rural areas because rural areas are seen as not being able to provide education, career, or entertainment opportunities as major metropolitan areas or larger cities.

Therefore, younger providers and even career providers are less willing to move to those areas. The practices that are in these areas don't consider other practices to be competition because of the volume of demand there is for mental health services.

Every agency, practice, and provider in those eight counties above are incredibly full.

According to the local NAMI chapter in Iowa, being a farmer this year is incredibly more stressful than any other year due to the flooding. The impacts of the flooding are far reaching and it extends far past access to mental healthcare.

Given the amount of stress on farmers this year, there are a variety of reasons why farmers and rural citizens are hesitant or reluctant to seek needed care. Even if there were enough providers to handle the demand for mental health services, there would still be barriers to receiving care in Iowa.

Some of those reasons are:

  • Financial difficulties

  • Time constraints

  • Limited internet access

All of these variables are also considerations that add to the burden of providing healthcare to those people in small or rural areas.

However, hope is not lost.

Some potential solutions to the mental healthcare shortage include

  • Telehealth

  • Online scheduling

  • Flexible hours

  • Multi-location practices

All of these provide the access to care that patients need. Overall, farmers and rural citizens are dealing with the flooding crisis by trying to get into provider's offices, spending time with family and friends, and staying positive about the future.

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