Home » Critical shortage of mental health providers spurs new Bellarmine program

Critical shortage of mental health providers spurs new Bellarmine program

A new master’s degree option in Bellarmine University’s Lansing School of Nursing will address a growing need in healthcare by preparing nurse practitioners to provide psychiatric evaluations and treatment.

“The United States is facing a critical shortage of mental-health providers at a time when the country is seeing rising rates of mental-health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance-abuse disorders,” said Dr. Chris Webb, chair of Graduate Nursing at Bellarmine and director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. “By creating the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, we can help close the gap of provider shortages and expand outreach and treatment to those who need it, improving health outcomes and the human condition.”  

In 2019-2020, 20.8% of adults—more than 50 million Americans—were experiencing a mental illness, according to the 2023 annual “State of Mental Health in America” report by Mental Health America, the nation’s leading national nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of mental health, well-being and illness prevention.

But 54.7% do not receive treatment. While cost or lack of insurance coverage were two factors in lack of treatment, the shortage of mental-health providers was another.

According to the report, there are an estimated 350 individuals for every one mental-health provider in the United States—and that may be an overestimate of active mental-health professionals, as it may include providers who are no longer practicing or accepting new patients.

Bellarmine’s 47-hour MSN– Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program prepares professional nurses to provide psychiatric disease management—including the prescription of medication—and advanced psychotherapy techniques in two years of part-time study, including two summers.

The program is online, with only one required on-campus visit in its entirety. For more information, visit the MSN-PMNHP program website.