The Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children is working to tackle one part of the shortage of mental health providers.
Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy executive director Cathleen Graham says the shortage of professionals comes from a number of factors: Indiana has almost doubled the number of children in the welfare system and the opioid epidemic contributed to longer stays in the system while parents and guardians get sober.
The commission adopted recommendations of its mental health task force to align Indiana’s mental health counselors license requirements with 30 other states.
Current state law requires licensed mental health counselors – which includes caseworkers and therapists – to have 1,000 hours in internship credit. But 30 states require 700 hours or less, which Graham says is in line with most master’s programs in the country.
“I’ve talked to a number of individuals who have said, I have my master’s in counseling, and I go to get my license and I find out I have to take 300 hours in an internship,” Graham says.
Graham says Indiana has lost mental health professionals to other states as a result.