Physician assistants, nurse practitioners providing mental health support 'here to stay'

The U.S. is meeting only 27.2 percent of its mental healthcare needs; meanwhile, physician assistants and nurse practitioners have stepped up to close the gap, MDLinx reported Nov. 2. 

It is projected that the U.S. may face a shortage of 14,280 to 31,109 psychiatrists by 2024, and an analysis found that 29.8 percent of mental health visits were with mental health nurse practitioners in 2019. In rural areas, visits with nurse practitioners accounted for more than 50 percent of these visits, according to the publication. 

The prescriptive and treatment authority among physician assistants and nurse practitioners varies, but their medical provider privileges are growing, researchers found in an analysis published by the National Library of Medicine.

"Given the state of the mental health crisis, the trend of nonphysician mental health support is here to stay — at least for the short term," Amanda Zeglis, DO, psychiatrist and an MDLinx advisory board member, said. "Communication and collaboration are essential for successful patient outcomes."



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