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Report: Florida Ranks Low When It Comes To Mental Health Care Access

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In a new report, Florida gets a middle of the pack ranking overall for mental health when compared to other states and Washington D.C.. But when it comes to access to medical professionals, Florida ranks near the bottom.

The State of Mental Health in America 2018 report looks at measures like prevalence of mental illness, insurance rates, and workforce availability.

In Florida, when it comes to access to mental health care professionals like psychologists and therapist, Florida ranks 44th.

Theresa Nguyen is the vice president of policy and programs for Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association. This is their fourth year publishing the report. She said for every 750 Floridians, there is only one type of mental health provider of any kind.

"So if somebody has a mental health problem in Florida it's likely that they're going to struggle finding a provider, getting the kind of mental health support they need to recover,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said access could be improved with telehealth services, which would allow patients to connect with physicians and therapists in other parts of the state or county.

The report shows there are fewer people living with mental illness in Florida, compared to other states.

“More surprising, in terms of a major shift, is that the prevalence rates of mental illness in Florida are low,” Nguyen said. “Florida is 10th in the nation, meaning they have some of the lowest rates of mental illness. People aren't feeling as sick. There are some thoughts that has something to do with weather, socioeconomic status -- factors like that.”

Nguyen points out that to better understand the ratings, it’s important to compare similar states in terms of geography, size, political affiliation and population.

In terms of similar populations, California was ranked 24th overall and Texas was ranked 39th overall. 

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.