Behavioral Health Workforce Challenges: Recruitment, Retention, and Work Environment

The behavioral health workforce faces considerable challenges, including demand for behavioral health services, changes to the health system under the Affordable Care Act, the return of war veterans with behavioral health needs, and a shift from incarceration to treatment-oriented behavioral health care in the criminal justice system. These changes place additional strain on the existing…

A Preliminary Analysis of State Scopes of Practice for Behavioral Health Professions

As demand for greater and more diverse behavioral health care services increases, expansion of occupational scopes of practice (SOPs) has been suggested as one mechanism for enhancing workforce capacity. SOPs that are uniform for a given occupation across states, and complementary across behavioral health occupations, may help ensure that a full range of mental health…

A Preliminary Analysis of State Scopes of Practice for the Profession of Social Work

Social work scopes of practice (SOPs) define the services and functions that are allowed by social workers. However, no studies have been conducted to assess the uniformity, or lack thereof, of the profession’s regulations across each state. As the need for social workers increases, the capacities of social workers will increase as well. This policy…

Behavioral Health Service Delivery for Vulnerable Populations

The provision of care for rural and geographically isolated, vulnerable populations presents substantial challenges for the behavioral health workforce related to its supply and retention of clinicians. This issue is a barrier to providing accessible services to those most in need. This policy brief assesses behavioral health workforce supply and need, barriers to recruiting and…

Understanding Billing Restrictions for Behavioral Health Providers

Balancing the disequilibrium between the demand for mental health and substance use disorder services and the supply of qualified behavioral health professionals compels an examination of the billing and reimbursement practices and payer policies impacting behavioral health service access. One strategy to enhance workforce capacity is to ensure that behavioral health professionals can receive reimbursement…

Scope of Practice Alignment for Paraprofessionals and Addiction Counselors

Paraprofessionals and other behavioral health technicians have been increasingly recognized for their key role in mitigating provider shortages and increasing behavioral health care access to underserved youth and minority populations. Therefore, it is important to understand the procedures, processes, and services these providers are authorized to provide, as outlined by a scope of practice (SOP)….

A Minimum Data Set for the Behavioral Health Workforce

A behavioral health workforce Minimum Data Set (MDS) was developed through a collaborative process with the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (BHWRC) research team and partner Consortium. An MDS instrument with 5 main themes was constructed to include numerous data elements to describe workforce size, composition, and characteristics of the behavioral health workforce, which was…

National Assessment of Scopes of Practice for the Behavioral Health Workforce

The Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act have increased demand for behavioral health workers and changed the way policy makers regulate behavioral health scope of practice (SOP) to benefit patient care. Expansion of occupational SOPs is a potential solution for addressing the demand for increased diversity of services. This…

Analysis of Behavioral Health Workforce Competencies Among Professions

As the number of behavioral health professionals increases to meet the increasing demand, professional competency statements are important for organizations to ensure that their behavioral health professionals are able to meet a wide variety of support needs. However, these competency statements are not standardized across organizations and their content has not been comprehensively studied. This…

Factors Impacting the Development of a Diverse Behavioral Health Workforce

Studies show that a diverse health workforce is important for ensuring patient satisfaction and meeting the needs of underserved populations. However, white providers continue to be overrepresented in the behavioral health workforce compared to the populations they serve. Developing a diverse behavioral health workforce can be challenging due to recruitment and retention issues as well…

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