Direct Support Workers
Much of the behavioral health care delivered to people with serious mental health and/or chronic addictive disorders is provided by front-line or direct support workers. Issues related to the qualifications, training, and ongoing evaluation of the competencies of this important provider group have received scant attention in the behavioral health field.
The Annapolis Coalition has made this category of service provider a focus since its earliest days because of the multiple challenges facing this workforce: vague role definitions and multiple titles; a dearth of research focused on this category of provider; wage and benefit challenges; uneven training and credentialing, among other. In addition to our focus on behavioral health direct support workers, we have also partnered with sister organizations that focus on direct service workers in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities and aging.
Many individuals among direct service workers are also individuals who are themselves in recovery from mental health and addictive disorders, and so the Coalition has also highlighted the important role of consumer- or peer-driven services in behavioral health.
Finally, in addition to the dissemination of research and policy content, the Coalition has devoted significant energy to recognizing and promoting innovative practices by direct support workers in the real world of clinical and support practices.
Dailey, WF, Morris, JA and Hoge, MA. (2015) Workforce development innovations with direct care workers: better jobs, better services, better business. Community Mental Health Journal, 51, 647-653.
Hoge, M. A., McFaul, M., Cauble, L. L., Craft, K. L., Paris, M., Jr., & Calcote, R. M. (2016). Building the skills of direct care workers: The Alaskan core competencies initiative. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 40(1), 31–39. https://doi.org/10.1037/rmh0000045
Hewitt, A, Larson, S, Edelstein, S, Seavey, D, Hoge, MA, Morris JA. (2009) A Synthesis of Direct Support Workforce Demographics and Challenges: National Recommendations Across Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities, Aging, Physical Disabilities and Behavioral Health. National Direct Service Workforce Resource Center http://www.dswresourcecenter.org 52 pages.
Hoge, MA, Morris, JA, Stuart, GW, Huey, LY, Bergeson, S, Flaherty, M, Morgan, O, Peterson, J Daniels, AS, Paris, M, and Madenwald, K. (2009) A national action plan on workforce development in behavioral health. Psychiatric Services, July 2009, Vol. 60, No. 7, 883-887.
Styron, T.H., Shaw, M., McDuffie, and Hoge, MA. (2005) Curriculum resources for training direct care providers in public sector mental health. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, Vol. 32, Nos. 5/6, pp. 633-651.
Morris, JA, Stuart GW. (2002) Training and education needs of consumers, families and front-line staff in behavioral health practice. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, Vol. 29, Nos. 4/5, May 2002, 359-376.