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Wyoming’s overall behavioral health system is fragmented, with multiple organizations being responsible for serving individuals suffering from chronic mental illness or substance use disorders. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that Wyoming had one of the lowest rates of mental health service providers per 100,000 individuals with serious mental illness in 2009-2011.
In February 2016, Governor Matt Mead signed an executive order creating a Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to recommend strategies to address behavioral health care in Wyoming. A Mental Health Advisory Board was also established to develop a plan of priorities for addressing needs for the prevention of mental illness, promotion of mental health and treatment services, especially those persons with serious mental illness.
In October 2017, Governor Matt Mead stated that “We must do better as a state” when discussing the issue of behavioral health. Among other measures, he proposed to increase funding for mental health services by $11 million per year over 3 years in the state’s 2018-2019 budget proposal.
Wyoming has recently seen a substantial increase in suicide rates with an average annual growth rate of 8% between 2007 and 2012. The highest number of suicides in Wyoming occurred among men over age 85. In 2014, the suicide rate was the highest it had been since 1987 when rates were first recorded. Suicide is a major public health concern in the United States and worldwide, being one of three leading causes of death among people 10-34 years old.
In 2016, Wyoming had a rate of 19.8 suicides per 100,000 people.
Suicide Prevention: According to the Wyoming Suicide Prevention Coalition there are a number of risk factors, warning signs and protective factors for suicide . Risk factors include mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety , substance use disorder , chronic pain , exposure to another’s suicidal behavior and physical illnesses such as cancer or neurological conditions. Warning signs include changes in behavior, increased substance use and withdrawal from social activities. Some protective factors that may lower risk for suicide are strong connections with family and friends, trust in healthcare providers , support systems, good problem-solving skills, coping strategies , help-seeking behaviors and cultural beliefs discouraging suicide
Sources: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and National Council for Behavioral Health .
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that offers a variety of programs related to prevention, treatment and recovery support for mental health conditions such as substance use disorder and other behavioral health issues .
In 2014, Wyoming ranked fourth lowest in the country for per capita mental health funding. Additionally, Wyoming also has a high rate of uninsured individuals (15%) which many times results in lower rates of people seeking services such as treatment for substance abuse or mental illness.
According to SAMHSA, Wyoming receives a total of $8,878,850 in federal community mental health services block grant funding . The state’s largest public behavioral health provider is Community Mental Health Services.
Key facts from “Behavioral Health Trends In Wyoming 2013” include:
In 2012, there were 1,068 individuals admitted to adult psychiatric beds in the state’s public psychiatric hospital. The average length of stay was 18 days for private patients and 36 days for Medicaid recipients .
In 2012, there were 13 psychiatrists in Wyoming, or one per every 47,000 people . In 2014, Wyoming also had 27 psychologists , 11 social workers , 17 mental health counselors and 30 marriage and family therapists .
In 2012, there were 74.2 prescriptions filled per 100 people for antidepressants . Wyoming also has the highest use of anti-anxiety medication in the country.
The SNAP program , or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal assistance program that provides nutritional assistance benefits to eligible, low income individuals and families and offers nutrition education as well.
The 2016-2017 Wyoming legislative session had proposed cuts to services such as food stamps for low income residents and the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) . These were rejected however there was still a proposal to cut $5 million from Medicaid funding which could have impacted mental health care. A new federal tax bill was also proposed that would eliminate most state and local tax deductions . This could potentially result in an increase of taxes for many residents which might then lower the amount of services like Medicaid.
The report “Behavioral Health Trends In Wyoming 2013” suggests ways to decrease costs while improving access to mental healthcare. Suggestions included:
Approximately 12% of Wyoming residents have a mental health condition, which costs the state $231 million per year . It’s estimated that 19% of adults in Wyoming suffer from a substance use disorder. In 2012, more than 1,000 people were admitted to treatment facilities for alcohol abuse and there were over 1,600 admissions to drug treatment programs .
In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a new initiative to improve access to mental health services by establishing “behavioral health crisis centers” that offer a variety of services including:
According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Community Mental Health Centers provide a range of medical and social services beyond just diagnosis and treatment. These services include:
The establishment of these new crisis centers could result in a number of benefits for Wyoming residents including, but not limited to:
In 2016, there were 1,089 psychiatric hospital beds in the state . There is also an average wait time of two months before a patient can get a psychiatric bed.