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Geographical Variations in Mental Health Resource Capacity at the Military Treatment Facilities
Mental health is an integral part of medical readiness. Over the last two decades, the demand for mental health services has increased across the board. The supply of mental health resources must match the growing demand to provide military members and other TRICARE beneficiaries with timely access to mental health services. This research examines geographical and temporal variations in mental health resource capacity at the Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) on national, regional, and catchment area levels. Furthermore, I determine what percentage of TRICARE beneficiaries who reside within MTF's catchment areas are at risk of inadequate access to mental health resources and what geographic, military-specific, demographic, and socio-economic characteristics are associated with those shortage areas. The results show no increase in mental health provider capacity over time and do not indicate significant temporal variations. The Northeast region records an insufficient number of mental health providers; the Northeast and Midwest demonstrate the shortage of psychiatrists. Around 7.4 percent and 41.2 percent of TRICARE recipients live in the MTF's catchment areas with a deficiency of mental health providers and psychiatrists, respectively. MTFs catchment areas with the U.S. Navy (USN) as a predominant service are more likely to experience a shortage of mental health providers compared to the U.S. Army (USA).
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