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Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA)

Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas

Mental Health Providers

mental health

Mental Health HPSA designations refer to a shortage of all non-federal core mental health professionals providing mental health patient care (direct or other, including consultation and supervision) in ambulatory or other short-term care settings to residents of the area.

Core Mental Health Providers include:

  • Psychiatrists (M.D. or D.O.)
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Psychiatric nurse specialists
  • Marriage and family therapists

General Criteria

  1. For mental health HPSAs the the full-time-equivalent ratio must be at least:
    • Geographic:
      • 30,000:1 for psychiatrists, or
      • 9,000:1 for core mental health care providers including psychiatrists, or
      • 6,000:1 for core mental health providers and 20,000:1 for psychiatrists
    • Geographic with high needs (i.e. poverty rate of 20% or greater):
      • 20,000:1 for psychiatrists, or
      • 6,000:1 for core mental health providers including psychiatrists, or
      • 4,500:1 for core mental health providers and 15,000:1 for psychiatrists
    • Population:
      • 4,500:1 for core mental health professionals and 15,000:1 for psychiatrists, or
      • 6,000:1 core mental health, or
      • 20,000:1 for psychiatrists
  2. The area designated must be a rational area for the delivery of mental health care services. Arizona uses the state mental health catchment area boundaries for designation, which have been pre-approved by HRSA as rational.
  3. Mental health professionals in contiguous areas are over-utilized, excessively distant, or inaccessible to the population of the area under consideration.

Geographic vs. Population HPSAs

Geographic HPSAs look at all of the mental health providers and the entire population to calculate the ratio. For population HPSAs, only a subset of the population (i.e. low income 200% FPL or less) and the portion of mental health provider's time devoted to that population (i.e. amount of care provided to patients on Medicaid or using a sliding-fee-schedule) are considered.

Mental Health HPSA designations are valid for three (3) years. See the Designation Process page for more information on renewing or applying for a primary care HPSA designation.

Additional information on the designation criteria for primary care HPSAs is available on HRSA's Shortage Designation Branch website.

Mental Health HPSAs in Arizona