Loan repayment programs help serve Utah’s behavioral healthcare needs
Nearly 3 million Utahns live in an area with insufficient mental health professionals, yet Utahns experience higher-than-average rates of suicide and depression. Isolation from teleworking can increase feelings of loneliness. Additionally, financial stress, including student loan debt, is a significant risk factor for depression, anxiety, and mental health concerns.
Employers play a vital role in supporting mental health and access to behavioral healthcare. That’s why the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (PCRH) at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services is offering 3 tips during Mental Health Awareness Month for business and community leaders to support mental health in their circles of influence:
- Create a caring culture. Build a routine around checking in with staff, stakeholders, and community partners. Encourage your contacts to prioritize self care. Normalize shared emotions and show your leadership by sharing personal struggles as appropriate. Check in on staff who work remotely.
- Community involvement. Join community events and partner with organizations that focus on mental health to demonstrate that you value mental health. Events you may be interested in joining for May, Mental Health Awareness Month are available on the PCRH website.
- Utilize resources. PCRH joins with hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations to offer loan repayment to their staff. PCRH’s loan repayment programs incentivize healthcare providers to serve in areas where they are most needed. These programs help providers—including mental health professionals—pay off their student loans. In exchange, providers commit to work in rural and/or underserved areas in Utah.
PCRH works with hospitals and clinics in rural and underserved areas of Utah to help them recruit and retain social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, and other practitioners. An average loan repayment award for a licensed mental health practitioner is about $37,000. Employers contribute to loan repayment through a site match. The site match amount varies by program. Applications are open. To find out if your business and employees qualify, visit ruralhealth.health.utah.gov.