By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.
LAS VEGAS — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and advocates in the Silver State said drastic changes are needed to improve access to services.
The latest report from Mental Health America ranks Nevada 40th among states for mental-health care for adults, and dead last in the country for services for youth.
Robin Reedy, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Nevada, said the ranking is based on more than just the amount of money the state invests.
“And that’s measured by the amount of services, the number of people who experience a mental health condition,” Reedy outlined. “We don’t have much of a workforce when it comes to psychiatric doctors, nurses. And what really brings us down is in pediatric care for mental health.”
A new University of Nevada-Las Vegas report confirms her assessment.
Reedy argued the state needs more training facilities to attract new medical-school graduates to intern in Nevada, and she supports raising Medicaid reimbursement rates to entice more doctors to settle here.
There is good news: Starting in July, people with mental health crises can call a new number, 988, instead of 911, and teens can now text with a peer counselor on the new teen text helpline. Worried parents can also request a counselor to contact their teen.
Dr. Rhonda Randall, executive vice president and chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show a rising rate of adults who report having a poor mental health day more than half the month.
“The populations that we see are disproportionately affected by worsening mental health in the United States, are adolescents, women, people over the age of 65 and multiracial adults,” Randall reported.
UnitedHealthcare’s new America’s Health Rankings report on the senior population found for people over 65, drug death rates have doubled since 2010, and suicide rates are up by 13% compared to the years 2009 to 2011.