State has the 5th-highest suicide rate, more people with lifetime depression

SALT LAKE CITY — While the country fights its mental health crisis, the Beehive State is poised to suffer in the skirmish, a new report says.

Suicide has become the leading cause of death for young Utahns ages 10 to 24. Meanwhile, the demand for mental health providers in the state is growing at a pace that the current shortage can’t keep up with, according to the report released Wednesday by Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in partnership with the Utah Hospital Association.

Utah has the fifth-highest suicide rate, more people with lifetime depression and fewer mental health professionals compared to nationwide averages, according to the report.

“Utah must more than double its current workforce over the next 15 years to keep up with population growth and move its mental health provider ratios closer to the national average,” researchers said.

The number of Utah adults suffering from poor mental health grew from 15.8% in 2009 to 17.5% in 2017, according to the report — now accounting for nearly 1 in 5 adults.

Deseret News

Data also showed 14.9% of boys ages 15-17 and 28.5% of girls “seriously considered attempting suicide” between 2015 and 2017. But almost 40% of youth ages 12-17 with depression received neither treatment nor counseling, researchers say.

“Most counties have no access to a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist unless they travel to a different county for services,” the report states.

There are only six child psychiatrists for every 100,000 children, putting Utah in the bottom three states nationwide for children’s access to care. Current providers face long waitlists.

Mental health experts in Utah also agreed that “there are not enough long-term or intermediate beds in the state” for people with severe mental health issues. Instead, they are often admitted into hospitals and emergency rooms, a more “expensive care option” with “limited mental health services available,” the report states.

For Anne DeTevis, whose adoptive teen son suffers from depression, the shortage of access to care is a constant worry.

DeTevis and her husband adopted their 15-year-old nephew and niece after they were taken away from their mother by the Division of Child and Family Services, she said. They adopted the teen in January 2018 and soon after, he started talking about committing suicide “and it’s just been horrible since,” she said.

According to DeTevis, the teen won’t speak to therapists and he’s spent three short stays in the University Neuropsychiatric Institute after suicide attempts, but Medicaid “will only pay for a few days and then they’ll just send him home.”

The family says the physical effects of his suicide attempts will be treated during those short stays, but not the underlying problems.

The family wants him to receive inpatient treatment where he’ll be prevented from harming himself, but facilities won’t accept him long term, she said.

DeTevis is “terrified” for his safety. “Just the worry that we have that he’s gonna hurt himself. I’ve …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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Utah faces critical provider shortage amid nationwide mental health crisis

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