Symposium On Economic Change, Scarcity And Mental Health Administration

Administration in mental health

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 306-322

First online:

Increased mental health caseloads in an energy boomtown

  • Linda M. Bacigalupi
  • , William R. Freudenberg

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Mental health administrators in high growth areas are challenged to meet increasing service demands in a time of declining federal support. Existing literature on energy boomtowns in the western United States would suggest that administrators in these areas should prepare especially to meet the needs of newcomers. Increasing service demands in boomtowns have often been attributed to the “special problems” of these incoming energy workers and their families, or to a “predisposition” on their part to use agency services of all types. This article examines this hypothesis through a longitudinal analysis of individual-level mental health caseload data from an energy boomtown. Findings indicate that while energy-related persons account for a substantial portion of the service demand, their use of mental health services is not disproportionately high for their relative population numbers, nor are their problems more severe than those of their nonenergy counterparts. Rather, a major portion of the caseload increase was due to the needs of the nonenergy population, among whom theper capita caseload effectively doubled within four years.