STUDY: Rockford area falls behind in number of mental health pro - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

STUDY: Rockford area falls behind in number of mental health providers

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

When it comes to mental health care, experts say Rockford and other areas in the Stateline have a long way to go. 

"Behavioral health is an epidemic -- not only in the Rockford region," Dr. Micheal Born the CEO and president of SwedishAmerican and the chairman of the Rockford Regional Health Council.

Born says the area needs to work on access to mental health providers. 

"One of the statistics we discovered is about 20 percent of our population has a behavioral health disorder," he says. 

Experts say the number of options for those people to find care in our area is falling behind the state and the nation. 

"It's a difficult thing for our providers to be able to keep up with the demand for services," Steve Ernst, the Healthy Community Study Volunteer chairman says. 

In 2016, the area had 127 mental health care providers for every 100,000 residents. That's compared to the state which had 180 providers and the country with 202. 

In Boone County, the ratio is profoundly smaller at roughly 16 per 100,000 people. It's a shortage experts say can take a toll on other areas of a person's health. 

"Unhealthy eating or not exercising, for many people that can be traced back to behavioral health issues," Ernst says.   

Now that the council has the numbers in front of them, they say it's time to dig in and start finding solutions to these problems. 

"We need to be collectively smart with our individual organizations," Born says. "Then in our collaboration with one another, figuring out how we can align and make the greatest impact on our community." 

The group says it plans to conduct another study in 2020. 

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