Addressing the Behavioral Health Workforce Shortage

This brief overviews the key challenges contributing to the behavioral workforce shortage and suggests solutions to address this problem.

Published by the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2018.

Population of US Practicing Psychiatrists Declined, 2003-13, Which May Help Explain Poor Access to Mental Health Care.
The number of psychiatrists in comparison to the population and in relation to primary care physicians has decreased significantly.  Many people seeking treatment for mental illness cite poor access to mental health care as a significant obstacle. This paper is the first step in drawing a correlation between lower number of psychiatrists and lack of access to care.

Published by Health Affairs in July 2016. Authors: Tara F. Bishop, Joanna K. Seirup, Harold Alan Pincus and Joseph S. Ross.

National Projections of Supply and Demand for Selected Behavioral Health Practitioners: 2013-2025

This brief presents national projections of U.S. supply and demand for 9 types of behavioral health practitioners in 2025, with 2013 data serving as baseline. Projections presented here represent a range based on two workforce scenarios: a baseline scenario and an alternative scenario. Under scenario one, projections indicate 2025 shortages of 16,940 mental health and substance abuse social workers; 13,740 school counselors; 8,220 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists; 6,080 psychiatrists; and 2,440 marriage and family therapists. Even greater shortages are projected under scenario two (which incorporates a 20 percent unmet demand for behavioral health services) with seven of the nine professions having 2025 shortages of more than 10,000 FTEs.

Published as an issue brief by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in November 2016 (government publication; not peer reviewed).

Closing the gaps in the rural primary care workforce

This brief overviews the key issues contributing to the primary care workforce shortage in rural communities. Policy recommendations to address the shortage are also included.

Published by the National Council of State Legislators in 2017.

The Mental Health Workforce: A Primer 

This report provides an overview of the mental health workforce including the lack of consensus on roles associated with the behavioral health field, license rerquiremnts by scope of practice and annual wages. The report also provides estimates for workforce size.

Published by the Congressional Research Service on April 16, 2015. Authors: Heisler, E. & Bagalman, E.

Shortage area charts – HRSA Data Warehouse

This set of interactive charts, maps and reports provide high-level summary data from the Health Resources & Services Administration on health profession shortage designations. There is also data on HPSAs in dental, mental health and primary care.

Published by HRSA and routinely updated with current data.

County-Level Estimates of Mental Health Professional Supply in the United States

This secondary data analysis compiles information on mental health providers including geographic setting, professional role and county characteristics in places of practice. Figures are also included to illustrate the findings.

Published in Psychiatric Services in October of 2009. Authors: Ellis, A., Konrad, T., Thomas, K., Morrissey, J.

Mental Health And Addiction Workforce Development: Federal Leadership Is Needed To Address The Growing Crisis

This white paper defines the behavioral health workforce shortage and highlights the need for nationwide engagement in developing the workforce to meet needs. This white paper provides some recommendations for policies and program approaches to increase the workforce.

Published in Health Affairs in November 2013. Authors: Hoge, A., Stuart, G., Morris, J., Flaherty, M., Paris Jr., M., & Goplerud, E.

A Minimum Data Set for the Behavioral Health Workforce

This document represents a collection of data elements that may be used to model worker supply and demand to inform behavioral health workforce planning efforts on a national, regional, and state level. Development of the behavioral health Minimum Data Set (MDS) is a foundational step in standardizing collection of workforce data. MDS data elements may also be useful in assessing the comprehensiveness of workforce data sets.

Published by the University of Michigan’s Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center in December 2016. Authors: Beck, A., Singer, P., Buche, J., Manderscheid, R., Buerhaus, P., Tuohy, C. & Boulton, M.

The Behavioral Health Workforce Needed for Integration with Primary Care: Information for Health Workforce Planning

This descriptive study provides information that can be used by policymakers, practitioners, educators and other health workforce planning stakeholders to develop plans and policies to increase access to behavioral health care services through primary care settings. Developing the behavioral health workforce needed for integration requires ongoing resources (including data and analysis, planning, policies, and funding) with support needed at the national, state and community levels. This study provides a framework to inform the process of planning and developing the behavioral health workforce that can meet these integration needs.

Published by the University of Washington’s Center for Health Workforce Studies in April 2016. Authors: Skillman, S., Snyder, C., Frogner, B. & Patterson, D.