Nationwide shortage of mental health workers, agencies struggle in the Ozarks

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A lack of counselors and psychologists has agencies in the Ozarks struggling to keep up with the demand. This problem has been going on before the impacts of COVID-19, but the pandemic made it a bigger issue.

“Even before COVID-19 we were experiencing a workforce shortage of mental health providers, particularly in the midwest and certain parts of this country,” said Matt Lemmon, the system director of communications at Burrell Behavioral Health. “So, it has been a problem in our industry for a really long time and something we have always been trying to counter.”

Experts say the need appears to be outpacing the number of people entering the field.

At Evangel University, which offers counseling and behavioral health degree programs, the faculty sees a bright future looking forward with lots of students signing up for their classes.

“Even in the last five to 10 years, I have seen my students be able to get jobs immediately at conferring upon their degrees,” said Doctor Christina Arnzen, the Evangel coordinator of the Graduate Counseling Program. “I actually had three agencies contact me today, this morning, asking ‘What is necessary to recruit your students to come on board.'”

Burrell says it has 450 licensed healthcare providers on staff.

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