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Psychologist reciprocity bill would ease mental health provider shortage, empower women economically


KANSAS CITY, Mo.  – May is Mental Health Month and the Women’s Foundation is lending its support to pending legislation (SB 204) that would make it easier for psychologists to practice in Missouri.

Senate Bill 204, sponsored by Missouri state Sen. Jeanie Riddle, would allow a psychologist licensed in a state that has signed the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board’s reciprocity agreement to be eligible for a license in Missouri.

Missouri has 110 Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas and the highest percentage of unmet mental health care need out of all 50 states.

“Our research has found that women are more likely to be impacted by burdensome and unnecessary occupational licensing rules, which make it harder for them to break into new fields or practice their profession if they move across state lines,” said Wendy Doyle, Women’s Foundation President & CEO. “This bill is a win-win: empowering women economically while helping to ease the severe shortage of mental health providers across the state.”

Women’s Foundation research on occupational licensing and reciprocity has shown that women are disproportionately impacted by state-level regulations that make it harder for people who relocate to another state to legally practice their profession. For example, according to the American Psychological Association, of the 70,311 students enrolled in psychology graduate programs in 2014, 75 percent were women.

Occupational licensing requirements have risen from five percent of the workforce holding a license in the 1950s to about twenty-six percent of the workforce holding a license in 2016.

Read the Women’s Foundation report on occupational licensing and reciprocity in Missouri and the U.S. here.