Online Program

Mental Health Facility Access Deserts in Urbanized Areas

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 9:20 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.

Patrick M. High, DrPH, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality; Division of Evaluation, Analysis and Quality, Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD
Background: Depression, including major depressive disorder, is among the most common mental health disorders in the United States and is highly correlated with comorbid infectious and physical health conditions. Treatment for depression in accordance with professional guidelines results in better health outcomes. However, barriers to accessing mental health service facilities to obtain treatment include distance from home or work to facility locations, lack of public transportation, lack of access to a vehicle, time, and financial costs. Because of these barriers, individuals and communities may lack access to mental health treatment facilities. In light of these barriers, the authors were interested in determining if, and to what extent mental health facility access deserts exist in urbanized areas within the United States.

Methods: Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services’ (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator (2014) was used to obtain location information on U.S. mental health treatment facilities.  A geospatial data file of 2010 urban areas and urban clusters was downloaded from the U.S. Census Bureau website.  ArcGIS software was used to geographically represent the urbanized areas and associated mental health treatment facilities across the U.S. Buffer zones, representing catchment areas, around treatment facilities were then mapped.  Coverage area inside the buffer zones and non-coverage area outside the buffer zones were calculated for each state.

Results: Mental health treatment facility access deserts exist within urbanized areas. Results from the research will discuss the proportion of mental health facility coverage area versus non-coverage area within the U.S.

Conclusion: Mental health facility access deserts within urbanized areas exist and vary by state.   Barriers to access and treatment facility location can result in access deserts which requires balancing facility location, services and equity.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe barriers to accessing mental health facilities Describe the proportion of urbanized areas where mental health facility access deserts exist

Keyword(s): Mental Health Treatment &Care, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present on this topic as I am an Epidemiologist working in the Division of Evaluation, Analysis and Quality in the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA and my research portfolio includes behavioral health, access to treatment and GIS.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.