Examining Access to Psychiatric Care in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Introduction: There is a shortage of mental health services in rural America, and little research is focused on rural underserved communities. Our aim was to identify and map clinical mental health services located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP) and explore primary care physician (PCP) mental health service provision and barriers to access experienced by this population.
Methods: We mapped clinically active psychiatrists and inpatient psychiatric units in the UP, and identified high-risk regions based on >30 mile distance to ambulatory services or low inpatient bed to population ratio. We surveyed PCPs in identified high-risk areas regarding provision of mental health services, comfort with providing services, and perceived barriers to care.
Results: Half of UP counties had no psychiatrists, and only two counties had inpatient psychiatric beds. PCPs are attempting to fill gaps in care, and report comfort with treating depression and anxiety, but less comfort with treating with bipolar disorder and substance use. Nearly all PCPs report barriers to accessing mental health resources; 70% report no psychiatrists to whom they can readily refer.
Conclusion: Michigan's UP has a shortage of mental health resources. Proposed strategies to confront this shortage include additional training of PCPs for substance use and bipolar disorder, bolstering the mental health workforce, and improving access to consultative services.
Bernson J, Hedderich P, Wendling AL. Examining Access to Psychiatric Care in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. PRiMER. 2021 Dec 17;5:44. doi: 10.22454/PRiMER.2021.501713. PMID: 35178506; PMCID: PMC8842812.