In Nebraska, people in some rural areas live hundreds of miles from professional counselors, despite an ongoing effort to supply communities with trained mental health professionals, according to a story by AP reporter Timberly Ross. In fact, a shortage of mental health professionals is a particular problem in the rural West. “All rural America has a problem, but it becomes especially problematic as you move to the west,” said Dennis Mohatt, who directs the mental-health research center at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Denver.
Nebraska is preparing legislation that would increase training and expand the state’s network of health care delivery by phone and Internet. It will help, but still the government has declared that all but five Nebraska counties should be designated federal mental health shortage areas. The wait to get help for depression or schizophrenia can last for months.
About 31 percent of Nebraska’s mental-health workers are in rural Nebraska, but that’s where 43 percent of the state’s residents live.