Action Plan on the Behavioral Health Workforce Development
There is broad consensus that there is a crisis regarding the nation’s behavioral health workforce. This crisis is characterized by a range of problems including the following:
- Difficulty finding or recruiting interested or qualified providers.
- Difficulty keeping or retaining employees once hired. Turnover rates in behavioral health organizations typically range from 20-70% annually.
- The existing workforce is aging and there is an inadequate flow of new workers to fill the jobs held by those who will retire over the next decade.
- A lack of providers qualified to care for children, adolescents and the elderly.
- Severe shortages of behavioral health providers in rural America.
- The use of ineffective training techniques and a reduction in the amount of overall training being delivered due to financial constraints in provider organizations.
- Decreased levels of supervision of direct care staff.
- The absence of training in management and leadership skills for the next generation of leaders in the field.
- The absence of training and supports for persons in recovery and families who care for them.
- Inadequate preparation of the workforce for treatment approaches involving integrated care.
Concluding a two-year strategic planning process that involved more than 5,000 individuals across the nation, the Annapolis Coalition completed the Action Plan on Behavioral Health Workforce Development in 2007. Funded by the three Centers within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Coalition was charged with developing a comprehensive plan to address the nation’s growing crisis surrounding efforts to recruit, retain and effectively train a prevention and treatment workforce in the mental health and addiction sectors of behavioral health.
Many of the nation’s foremost leaders in workforce development were engaged as senior advisors to guide the planning process. They assembled and led a dozen expert panels and workgroups that reviewed available research and workforce analyses, gathered input from diverse stakeholders, searched for innovations in workforce development and formulated recommendations.
Groundbreaking at its time, the planning process and resulting report broadly defined the “workforce” to include not only traditional providers but also persons in recovery, youth, family members and community coalitions. Strengthening the role of these individuals and groups in the workforce receives focused attention in the recommendations.
The final report reviewed the current workforce and its environment; outlined a set of general findings; identifies seven core strategic goals; and outlined the objectives and actions necessary to achieve each goal. Implementation plans linked suggested actions to recommended stakeholders, providing a detailed blueprint for use by individuals and organizations of all types. A section of the plan examined the workforce issues germane to selected populations and settings, and addressed the critical issue of workforce financing.