WI facing significant shortage of of psychiatrists

(WQOW) – Mental health is something people in all walks of life battle on a daily basis, yet there is an alarming lack of psychiatrists to help solve the problem in Wisconsin.

In fact, 55 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties face a “significant shortage” of psychiatrists, while 20 counties don’t have any psychiatrists at all.

Statistics gathered by the Wisconsin Policy Forum show there are 759 psychiatrists in the state. That boils down to roughly 1.3 psychiatrists per 10,000 state residents.

Half (10) of the counties without psychiatrists are in northwest or northcentral Wisconsin. (This is also shown in the map below)

  • Chippewa
  • Barron
  • Rusk
  • Taylor
  • Clark
  • Burnett
  • Washburn
  • Sawyer
  • Price
  • Lincoln

In addition to the 20 counties with no psychiatrists, another 10 counties have less than one psychiatrist per county because they share with another county. For example, a psychiatrist currently serves Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says areas with fewer than one psychiatrist for every 10,000 residents have a “significant shortage.” The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services generally identifies “shortage areas” as those with one psychiatrist or fewer for every 30,000 people.

In addition to the lack of psychiatrists, age plays a negative factor in the equation. According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the average Wisconsin psychiatrist is 50-years-old. Fifteen percent of them are 65 or older.

According to Mental Health America, Wisconsin is ranked 41st of the 50 states for prevalence of mental illness.

There are initiatives in place to  draw psychiatrists to areas that are lacking. For example, there are three loan assistance programs available to Wisconsin psychiatrists: the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program and Rural Physician Loan Assistance Program, which are run by the state Office of Rural Health; and the federal National Health Service Corps.

Clint Berge

Clint Berge

Clint Berge is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager for Eau Claire's Own WQOW News 18. Report any website issues to him at cberge@wqow.com

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