WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)– A new report reveals a shortage of psychiatrists in Wisconsin. Over three-quarters of the state’s counties have a significant shortage according to the report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.
According to North Central Health Care CEO Michael Loy, 250 additional psychiatrists are needed across the state to make sure that needs are adequately met.
By the state’s standard, 55 counties have a shortage and 20 counties don’t have any practicing psychiatrists. North central Wisconsin counties are hit the hardest by this crisis. Lincoln, Adams and Clark counties are all without a full-time psychiatrist.
The gap between the population in need of mental health services and the population that is actually served is over 50 percent. For those suffering with addition, the gap is over 70 percent.
Without psychiatrists to serve rural communities, Loy said the consequences could be severe.
“There would be higher incidents of death in the community as it relates to addiction specifically,” Loy said. “But mental health, it would just be a real burden on society as family members and the community would have to work with individuals that really need treatment.”
The Wausau Police Department is taking initiative when it comes to mental health in their community.
Some officers have been trained to deal with mental health crises. Those officers are partnered with a crisis professional from North Central Health Care and work together as a Crisis Assessment Response Team (CART).
“Police really are kind of a direct contact when people are in crisis, and this really should be a focus that officers need to take to work with citizens,” Officer Dave Bertram said.
Officers in Wausau would like to see more programs like CART to deal with mental health issues across the state.