Minnesota has some of the best and worst access to mental health care

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

By Alisa Roth

MPR News/90.1 FM

A new study indicates Minnesota has some of the best access to mental health care in the country, and some of the worst, based on the number of providers per capita in a county.

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The study from the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found seven Minnesota counties have no mental health care providers at all.

“In places where there’s no access within the county, people then need to drive farther or they’re just not getting the care they need,” said Kate Kingery, an institute researcher.

The study identified no mental health care providers in Minnesota counties including Bigstone, Lincoln, Grant, Lac qui Parle, Fillmore, Wabasha and Benton counties.

Five Minnesota counties have some of the highest ratios of mental health care providers to people in the country, and they’re not just in the Twin Cities. Beltrami, Kandiyohi and Olmsted counties joined Ramsey and Hennepin counties.

Kingery said most states either rank well in providing mental health care or they rank poorly. Minnesota, on the other hand, reflects the country as a whole.

However, the study also found Minnesotans report fewer “poor mental health days,” with an average of 3.2 per month, compared to the national average of 3.8.

This reporting is part of Call to Mind, MPR initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.