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Behavioral Healthcare Deficits & Interventions

March 30, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Ramon Martinez III

Executive Summary

Behavioral health care (which includes mental health care), can include any services that aid in behaviors that affect mental or physical well-being, such as emotional management, disorders in behaviors like eating or substance abuse, and cognitive illnesses. Deficits in behavioral care with respect to the needs of Missouri residents exist and have worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. States have taken various measures to address mental health and substance abuse needs, such as through workplace recruitment and retention and programs that identify and deliver services to vulnerable populations. Recent federal funding for mental health (including nearly ~$2 billion in funds to Missouri) may be used for community or school-based mental health program development and delivery. 


  • Nearly 1/3 of Missouri adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in 2021, and there are significant shortages in mental health service providers, with only 6% of mental service needs being met in the state.
    • Approximately 1 in 20 adults reported an alcohol use disorder and 1 in 33 adults reported an illicit drug use disorder.
  • Workforce recruitment and retention strategies for behavioral health professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses) have been employed to incentivize or ease burdens on the ability of professionals to practice (such as changes in certifications and scopes of practice).
    • An additional 140 practitioners would be needed to remove the state from the federal list of Healthcare Professional Shortage Areas.
  • Early intervention programs vary significantly from state-to-state, and can include policy measures on screening, treatment and delivery systems, reducing inequities, and school-based mental health.
  • Federal funding from the U.S. 2021 American Rescue Plan has been allocated to Missouri for both state and municipal mental health program development and service delivery and for school-based mental health services.
    • Telehealth has increased in the share of mental health visits.


  • Many state-level measures in behavioral health programs are recent, and further retrospective analysis in the future will be needed to determine ultimate efficacy.
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