Nebraska lawmakers are looking for ways to increase mental health services in areas that lack psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, but that could prove difficult amid a tight state budget

Nebraska has a nearly statewide shortage of mental and behavioral health professionals, but advocates say the problem is particularly bad in rural parts of the state. One senator said the solution may lie in a state-funded internship program to attract more behavioral and mental health students who are working toward advanced degrees.

Sen. John Stinner of Gering said he plans to convene different groups at hearing on Sept. 8 to see how the state might pay for such an incentive.