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Mental health groups look to address needs amid psychiatrist shortage

Experts speak on the need for additional access to mental health resources in Lane County.

Posted: Feb 19, 2020 6:57 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- In Oregon, a shortage of psychiatrists often leads to many individuals being left on waiting lists for extensive periods of time.

Meanwhile, groups in Lane County are working daily to serve those with mental health issues.

The waiting list issue, however, is still a concern for Lane County residents.

Jennifer MacLean is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Lane County.

NAMI provides resources for adults struggling with mental health conditions through advocacy and support.

“Currently NAMI has no waiting list for our program, so all of our programs are peer support groups and family support groups are drop in,” MacLean said.

The nonprofit has served Lane County for 30 years. While the center does not provide counseling or legal advice, there are various education courses one can take to help those around you who suffer from a mental health issue.

“Our community is struggling for qualified mental health professionals, therapists and counselors,” MacLean said.

Mark Beach is the Director of Parent Education at The Child Center, a nonprofit in Springfield aimed at helping children who are struggling with a mental or behavioral problem. He recognizes that there is a need for more professionals to fill the gap that currently exists.

"I would really like to see access being smoother for families because I know there are a lot of people out there who are hurting and stuck and not getting what they need," Beach said.

Beach said that there are great therapists and counselors who work at the center, but more are needed to fully support the community. He said that the pool to select from is just not there.

“We can't hire therapists fast enough to be able to keep up with the pace of the need,” Beach said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is in need of help. Click here for more information.

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