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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
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HPSA Designations
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Mental Health HPSA Designation Overview

There are three different types of HPSA designations, each with its own designation requirements:

  • Geographic Area
  • Population Groups
  • Facilities

Geographic Areas must:

  • Be a rational area for the delivery of mental health services
  • Meet one of the following conditions:
    • A population-to-core-mental-health-professional ratio greater than or equal to 6,000:1 and a population-to-psychiatrist ratio greater than or equal to 20,000:1 or
    • A population-to-core professional ratio greater than or equal to 9,000:1 or
    • A population-to-psychiatrist ratio greater than or equal to 30,000:1
  • Have unusually high needs for mental health services, and
    • A population-to-core-mental-health-professional ratio greater than or equal to 4,500:1 and a population-to-psychiatrist ratio greater than or equal to 15,000:1, or
    • A population-to-core-professional ratio greater than or equal to 6,000:1, or
    • A population-to-psychiatrist ratio greater than or equal to 20,000:1
  • Mental health professionals in contiguous areas are overutilized, excessively distant or inaccessible to residents of the area under consideration.

Population Groups must:

  • Face access barriers that prevent the population group from use of the area's mental health providers
  • Meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have a ratio of the number of persons in the population group to the number of FTE core mental health professionals serving the population group greater than or equal to 4,500:1 and the ratio of the number of persons in the population group to the number of FTE psychiatrists serving the population group greater than or equal to 15,000:1; or
    • Have a ratio of the number of persons in the population group to the number of FTE core mental health professionals serving the population group greater than or equal to 6,000:1; or
    • Have a ratio of the number of persons in the population group to the number of FTE psychiatrists serving the population group are greater than or equal to 20,000:1

Facilities must:

  • Be maximum or medium security facilities
  • Be either Federal and/or State correctional institutions, State/County mental hospitals or public and/or non-profit mental health facilities
  • Federal or State Correctional facilities must:
    • Have at least 250 inmates and
    • Have a ratio of the number of internees per year to the number of FTE psychiatrists serving the institution of at least 2,000:1
  • State and county mental health hospitals must:
    • Have an average daily inpatient amount of at least 100; and
    • The number of workload units per FTE psychiatrists available at the hospital exceeds 300, where workload units are calculated using the following formula: Total workload units = average daily inpatient census + 2 x (number of inpatient admissions per year) + 0.5 x (number of admissions to day care and outpatient services per year).
  • Community mental health centers and other public and non-profit facilities must:
    • Be providing (or responsible for providing) mental health services to an area or population group designated as having a shortage of mental health professionals and
    • Have insufficient capacity to meet the psychiatric needs of the area or population group