In a report released this week, almost all counties have behavioral health provider capacity below national and state averages
IRVING, TX – Seven North Texas counties have no psychiatric care beds and the number of behavioral care providers throughout the region are below national and state levels, according to a Behavioral Health Community Needs Assessment Report released this week.
The 130-page report by the North Texas Community Health Collaborative was the opening bell of a strategic goal of improving mental health services in the region over the next three years. The study outlines challenges and opportunities for North Texas in tackling issues troubling the state such as patient access to mental health and substance misuse services; increasing the number of beds available in hospitals; and expanding the region’s mental health workforce.
Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation Director of Research Dr. Sushma Sharma said the report renders North Texas transparent when deciding what resources are necessary and where they are needed to improve access to behavioral healthcare.
“This is one of the first times North Texas has had such a detailed study on this issue,” Dr. Sharma said. “We now have a better understanding as to the approaches necessary to improve behavioral health treatment and care. This report serves as a map allowing us to set strategic goals and move forward with improving mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment in North Texas.”
Details of the study covered 2016 data from 16 counties including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant and Wise.
The report was created by utilizing the DFWHC Foundation’s patient data warehouse including comprehensive hospital visit information from 86 hospitals in the region. Additional information was culled from the Department of State Health Services, the Merritt Hawkins Physician Workforce Report and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The study includes annual totals detailing the percentage of hospital patient visits from each county diagnosed with mental health and drug issues. The gender, age, race-ethnicity and insurance status of each patient and the zip codes where they live are also detailed. In addition, the number of psychiatric beds for each county is listed.
“Our goal is to promote collaborative, community-based efforts,” said Kristin Jenkins, president of the DFWHC Foundation. “If we fail to properly invest in these issues, we do so at our own risk because the societal, medical and criminal justice costs will be extremely high. Coordination is key, but we could not move forward without this report detailing in almost exact detail where these issues are impacting not only human potential, but families, communities and businesses.”
Notable details include Ellis, Erath, Hood, Johnson, Rockwall and Somervell counties have no beds available for psychiatric care; 10 counties have no psychiatric hospitals; and Dallas and Tarrant counties maintain more than 60 percent of the total psychiatric care beds within the 16-county region.
“That’s a problem,” said Dr. Sharma. “When behavioral health patients have no doctors or hospitals to visit in their communities, they will migrate to counties that do, creating patient migration which overloads our metro hospitals.”
The North Texas Community Health Collaborative has begun efforts for prevention and early detection, with a commitment to train 10,000 lay persons over the next three years in Mental Health First Aid across the 16 counties.
Coordinated by the DFWHC Foundation, the North Texas Community Health Collaborative represents 10 area hospital systems, behavioral health authorities and community-based organizations with a goal of improving behavioral health services.
The report can be found here.
You can also contact Dr. Sharma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DFWHC Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to continually improve the community’s health by promoting safe, high quality, cost effective, accessible and equitable healthcare and by strengthening the healthcare workforce through education and research.
February 22, 2018
Chris Wilson, DFWHC Foundation