Is There a Shortage of Mental Health Profession Is There a Shortage of Mental Health Profession

Is There a Shortage of Mental Health Professionals in America?

Is There a Shortage of Mental Health Professionals in America?


Treatment Access in Urban v.s. Rural Counties

Over 115 million people in the United States live in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. These are areas in which the ratio of mental health professionals to residents is smaller than 1 per 30,000 people.

  • The United States has an average of
    • 30.0 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 15.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Metropolitan counties have an average of
    • 33.2 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 17.5 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Non-metropolitan counties have an average of
    • 13.7 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 5.8 psychiatrists per 100,000 people
  • Rural counties (areas without any cities larger than 10,000 people) have an average of
    • 9.1 psychologists per 100,000 people
    • 3.4 psychiatrists per 100,000 people

Shortages are more likely to occur in rural areas due to lack of funding and infrastructure. Many counties have no mental health professionals at all.

Meanwhile, cities are likely to have more professionals than average and may even see a saturation of workers.

Which Regions in America Have the Most Providers?

The shortage is more pronounced in certain regions of the country. Measuring only the prevalence of psychologists:

  • New England: 55.6 per 100,000
  • Middle Atlantic: 41.8 per 100,000
  • East North Central: 31.3 per 100,000
  • West North Central: 32.3 per 100,000
  • South Atlantic: 25.0 per 100,000
  • East South Central: 16.9 per 100,000
  • West South Central: 14.9 per 100,000
  • Mountain: 28.3 per 100,000
  • Pacific: 36.1 per 100,000

Concerns for the Future: Which Professions Are Most At Risk?

Different professions are projected to be more vulnerable to shortages in the future. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that by 2025, the U.S. will have a shortage of:

These shortages can be attributed to both dwindling supply and growing demand. In general, professionals are aging out of these fields quicker than they are being replaced by younger professionals. However, population growth and expanding insurance coverage suggest greater numbers of people will seek mental health treatment in the future.

© Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Felicia F.

    March 12th, 2019 at 7:02 PM

    What about psychiatric advance nurses who prescribe?

  • Dan

    April 5th, 2019 at 4:10 PM

    Yes! People need to see this

  • Bev

    June 10th, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    The situation appears to be the same in the UK and S Africa Oversupply of counsellors psychotherapists in larger more affluent areas. MH Charity’s do not pay the counsellors this in my opinion leads to an undermining of the profession

  • Frances

    December 3rd, 2019 at 12:14 PM

    What are the numbers in green under each mental health professional and before the needed and available numbers represent? I’m doing a project so would appreciate the information soon if possible. Thank you!

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.