KSTP reports on increased access to tele mental health services during the pandemic, thanks to telehealth services and relaxed regulations
One of the bigger challenges highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the need to boost access to mental health care in many areas in the state.
In less populated areas of Greater Minnesota, change is taking place due to the work of a group of mental health professionals and other stakeholders who started working on the access issue even before the pandemic began.
For the first time, licensed drug and alcohol counselors are now eligible for Minnesota’s state-run loan forgiveness program.
“These recommendations highlight the need for continued efforts to strengthen the mental health care system in Greater Minnesota,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Mental health is an essential part of a person’s overall well-being, and the stresses of the pandemic have made it more important than ever to ensure everyone in Minnesota can access quality care when they need it. This report is an encouraging step toward that goal.”
In May 2019, the Rural Health Advisory Committee formed a workgroup to assess mental health care in the rural parts of the state. The work group convened six times from 2019 to 2020 and hosted three regional listening sessions to learn from rural communities in different parts of the state. Those in Greater Minnesota often lack access to critical mental health services, due in part to an insufficient mental health workforce with a ratio of 1,518 people to each mental health provider in isolated rural areas as compared to 304 people per provider in metropolitan areas.