Shortage in mental health providers has patients waiting for mon - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Shortage in mental health providers has patients waiting for months

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Chippewa Valley (WQOW)- A shortage of psychiatrists is making patients wait for months.

Angela Weideman, the public health director in Chippewa County, said there's one psychiatrist for every 20,000 people in western Wisconsin.

Weideman said patients could wait anywhere from six to nine months to see a psychiatrist. 

"If families are in crisis, they need help immediately and they can't afford to wait that time frame, so families end up using E.R., going to kind of a higher lever of care sometimes because things can go to crisis really quick if we don't do intervention or prevention work," said Weideman.

Mayo Clinic Health System is addressing the shortage by announcing it's expanding its Psychiatry Residency Program in Eau Claire. 

Governor Scott Walker was at the event Tuesday, and spoke about the need for more mental health care providers.

"If you help fund residencies, if the medical professionals do their training outside of Milwaukee or Madison, and they're out and around the state typically they're more likely to stay in those areas and practice after their residencies completed. We're hoping the same thing will be true with psychiatry so that we can get more behavioral health specialist here in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.

Up to two additional residents will begin training in 2020, and organizers said within a few years the program could bring eight more mental health professionals to the Eau Claire area. 

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