Newsmakers: Rep. Samantha Vang Addresses Mental Health Barriers
Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center) has a bill that aims to increase the number of mental health professionals by eliminating barriers.
“We’ve seen COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for mental health and for a long time we’ve had staffing shortages,” said Rep. Vang. “What my bill does is address multiple barriers to becoming a mental health professional.”
Vang says supervision is required before someone can become a mental health professional, but there are no incentives to encourage people to be supervisors. Her bill would provide incentives to encourage people to become supervisors. Incentives include expanding the mental health loan eligibility program and grants that would pay the supervisor.
Other provisions include providing scholarships for people to continue their education as well as reimbursements for costs like childcare and transportation. A website would provide resources for people seeking information on becoming a mental health professional.
Rep. Samantha Vang says she frequently hears about the need for mental health professionals.
“It’s all across the state, especially in rural areas. Access to mental health providers has always been difficult. I think in greater Minnesota barriers like housing and affordable childcare really accumulate, so it’s hard for professionals to serve in that area,” explained Vang. “What my bill does is really encourage more professionals to serve in the rural, greater Minnesota area.”
Also, Vang points out a need for more diverse mental health professionals.
“Ninety percent of our mental health professional providers are white. We have a diverse population where needs aren’t being met and don’t reflect the population of the state,” said Vang. “My bill also addresses underserved communities and poor communities of color.”
You can track the bill here.