It has been shown that the need for mental health care does not significantly vary across the United States. Thirteen states were assessed in a study by Sturm et al. (2003) which aimed to compare mental health need and mental health service utilization of children and adolescents. The thirteen states included in the study were Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Results revealed that the state of residence of a mentally ill individual was an essential factor in determining utilization of mental health services. Place of residence was revealed to be a greater factor than race or social status. California, Texas, and Florida were shown to have the highest rates of unmet need for mentally ill pediatric and adolescent individuals. Only after the factor of geographic distribution has been identified do race and social status serve as explanatory factors for disparity in access to mental health facilities. (Sturm et al. , 2003)
In a government report by Heinrich (2002), it was shown that despite the presence numerous federal programs, such as mental health insurance coverage, aimed at increasing access to mental health services, other factors limited utilization of the said services. Children’s access to the said benefits was constrained as a result of eligibility requirements or program limitations. Financial assistance could also be limited for children needing mental health services due to the patient’s family’s lack of knowledge about state compensation and state program requirements.
Mental health care workers – working conditions Cunningham, Conner, Miller, & Melloni (2003) have shown the real dangers faced by mental health staff working in psychiatric settings. A survey was conducted in 15 psychiatric units in catering to the needs of both pediatric and adult inpatients in the states of Massachusetts, California, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Results showed increased frequency of physical attack and aggression against staff members.
83% reported being verbally threatened Of all respondents, 83% reported being verbally threatened, 65% reported physical assault, and 39% reported injury in a 6-month period. Only 4% reported no violence or aggression occurring in their mental health work site during the past 6 months (Cunningham et al. , 2003, 36-37). Mental health staffs handling pediatric and adolescent patients have also been shown to be at greater risk of injury than those handling adult patients. Also, the level of inexperience of each staff member has been directly related to risk for patient violence.
This indicates that training and equipping staff members of mental health facilities is essential for reducing the staff’s risk of physical aggression from patients. (Cunningham et al. , 2003) Another very real factor contributing to stressful working conditions for mental health workers is the concept of professional dissonance. “Professional dissonance is conceptualized as a feeling of discomfort arising from the conflict between professional values and expected or required job tasks.
” (Taylor & Bentley, 2005, 470) Professional dissonance is often encountered by mental health social workers tasked with applying involuntary treatment interventions. These interventions bring up issues like the client’s right to refuse treatment. Involuntary treatment interventions, therefore, can pose a very salient moral and professional dilemma for social workers. Increased exposure to application of involuntary treatment interventions also increased the level of professional dissonance experienced.
Other researchers have shown that medical doctors, in general, are showing increased signs of depression as a result of the quality of their working conditions. At present, one out of five medical doctors indicates feeling stress and strain in their working conditions. (Pearson, 2006). The said statistics also include medical doctors, such as psychiatrists, involved in the mental health care profession. One of the ways the depression has been combated in the medical profession is through the establishment and development of mentoring and support programs. (Pearson, 2006).