15 metropolitan areas most undersupplied for behavioral health providers per 100,000 people


Provider population not keeping up with general population growth in some parts of the country.

Supply and demand are out of balance for behavioral health providers (BHPs) and primary care physicians across the United States, according to a new report that analyzed trends of metropolitan areas.

Based on U.S. Census figures, the national average rate is 61 BHPs per 100,000 people in metropolitan areas with populations of at least 200,000 people. Some cities have far fewer BHPs, and the 15 worst all have fewer than half the national average. The figures include psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral therapists, social workers, and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

Market consultant Trilliant Health calculated the numbers from U.S. Census Bureau data and its own Provider Directory to describe mismatches among population hot spots and locations where health care providers are.

As of June, fewer adults were reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression than at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in September the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued its draft recommendations supporting primary care screening for depression, anxiety, and suicide risk for adults.

Those recommendations underscore “the potential that certain mental and behavioral health conditions are going untreated or undiagnosed, in part due to the nationwide provider shortage,” said the report by Sanjula Jain, PhD, Trilliant Health chief research officer.

“Despite efforts to better integrate primary care and behavioral health care, how will the screened population, if adopted nationally, be treated given the undersupply of BHPs?” the report said.

Trilliant Health published a list of 30 metropolitan areas with at least 200,000 people, and here are the bottom-ranked 15 metropolitan areas for the number of behavioral health providers per 100,000 people.