Behavioral Health Workforce Shortages: Supporting Innovation Through Collaboration
The effects of COVID-19 and other traumatic events have heightened the need for mental health and substance use services across the country. However, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) behavioral health (BH) workforce projections, the number of BH professionals cannot adequately meet the care demands in the United States. We anticipate shortages in roles including psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health, and substance use counselors, and marriage and family therapists. For many states, workforce shortages constitute a significant barrier to meeting community service demands.
JBS is proud to partner with federal agencies, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and HRSA, in addition to states, territories, and health care providers. Through this collaboration, we discover and implement workforce solutions through innovative recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies, along with evidence-based models of care, to increase efficiency withing the existing workforce.
Specific JBS Initiatives
JBS combines subject matter expertise, strategic communication, project management, and skilled facilitation to successfully lead states, territories, and health care providers to identify and implement best-fit strategies for improving their systems of care. Notable examples include:
- Learning Collaboratives (LCs): JBS conducts LCs, or virtual workshops, for states and territories, where participants learn from experts about topics such as improving data quality, addressing workforce challenges, managing crises, and enhancing state BH planning councils. LCs allow states to share challenges, learn from peers and experts, and create strategies to tackle workforce shortages, benefiting individuals and communities in need.
- Training to Build a Skilled Workforce for Co-Occurring Disorders: Currently, JBS provides training and technical assistance (TA) to a state to bolster its workforce in caring for clients with both mental health and substance use disorders. Building a quality workforce starts with encouraging individuals to enter the BH field. This collaboration has led to the identification of multiple strategies for providing meaningful opportunities—internships, skill-building clinical practice, and curriculum-based certifications—for students to engage with the profession throughout their academic education. In addition to recruitment and hiring efforts, JBS brings expertise on retaining and strengthening the quality of the BH workforce. JBS has a wealth of experts in the field who provide training on evidence-based practices shown to support positive treatment outcomes.
- Training for Integrated Behavioral Health Care: JBS was selected by HRSA to provide training and TA to over 500 Health Centers working toward full integration of BH care into their primary health care settings. Integrated care supports workforce retention, as this model of care naturally provides a culture of increased communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Integrated care also creates business opportunities for health care centers to maximize their organizational and service efficiencies. JBS utilizes a variety of modalities to support health care systems with infrastructure development; these modalities include webinars, learning collaboratives, virtual office hours, brown bags, and customized and individualized support such as coaching and onsite training and consultation. JBS also offers targeted training and TA utilizing evidence-based and promising practices such as motivational interviewing and SBIRT (screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment) to help BH providers adapt services to match each health care setting.
- Communities of Practice (CoPs): Currently, JBS is coordinating four CoPs with 124 heath care centers across the country, including a CoP specific to the BH workforce. These CoPs afford a space for health care centers to share challenges, innovations, and discovered solutions with each other. Participants have expressed appreciation for the information and opportunity JBS provides to validate their challenges, learn from peers, and develop effective and tailored strategies for improvement.
JBS is pleased to lead efforts to understand the evolving BH workforce landscape and develop effective strategies to bolster this sector, so vital to the wellbeing of communities as well as individuals. We are committed to working alongside states, territories, and health care providers to build a stronger workforce that delivers evidence-based services to improve the lives of people every day.