In July 2016, Governor Jay Inslee tasked the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTECB) to assess the behavioral health workforce in Washington State. As Washington moves toward greater integration of behavioral health and physical/medical care, the WTECB has been charged with creating an action plan to address behavioral health workforce challenges and training needs to facilitate this emerging integrated healthcare model. This report summarizes the common themes revealed from a survey of key informants, and provides further background to the workforce-related challenges to providing behavioral health care in Washington.
Throughout Washington, the demand for behavioral healthcare is outstripping the availability of services. In 2016, Washington’s Governor and Legislature chartered a number of efforts to improve access to and the effectiveness of behavioral health care in the state, including this assessment of Washington’s Behavioral Health Workforce. This report presents initial findings regarding barriers and short-term solutions related to ensuring a comprehensive and effective behavioral health workforce. The input of more than 200 stakeholders and key informants contributed to this report.
This report represents Phase II of the 18-month project. Phase II focused on assembling more detailed information to describe the Washington behavioral health workforce, and refining and updating Phase I recommendations as healthcare providers gained knowledge and experience regarding behavioral and physical healthcare integration. Five stakeholder focus groups that included CEOs, leaders of behavioral health agencies, organized labor, associations, and educators shaped the actionable recommendations in this report.