In the upcoming 2024 legislative session, State Sen. Curt Bramble is sponsoring a bill, SB0026, which aims to increase Utahns’ access to mental health services by reducing the required hours of experience for mental health provider licensure. The proposed change would decrease the hours from 3,000 to 1,200 hours, a dangerous reduction that raises concerns about the impact on clients’ well-being and the overall quality of care in Utah.
The bill’s changes could also affect Utah’s ability to join the Social Work Licensure Compact, which benefits therapists by allowing their licenses to be honored in multiple states. The decrease in required hours may make Utah ineligible for the compact, putting the state at a disadvantage compared to surrounding states that require 3,000-4,000 hours. This could affect the overall quality of care available to Utahns.
Moreover, the bill does not address the influence of insurance companies on access to mental health care. These companies have their own requirements for providers in addition to those of educational institutions and state licensing boards. This can create hurdles for therapists and impact their financial stability and availability of affordable mental health care services for low-income Utahns.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider direct feedback from therapists and clients before enacting any changes to ensure that this bill benefits the mental health care system in Utah truly.