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An Action Plan for Behavioral Health Workforce Development

Across the nation there is a high degree of concern about the state of the behavioral health workforce and pessimism about its future. Workforce problems have an impact on almost every aspect of prevention and treatment across all sectors of the diverse behavioral health field. The issues encompass difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, the absence of career ladders for employees, marginal wages and benefits, limited access to relevant and effective training, the erosion of supervision, a vacuum with respect to future leaders, and financing systems that place enormous burdens on the workforce to meet high levels of demand with inadequate resources.

Most critically, there are significant concerns about the capability of the workforce to provide quality care. The majority of the workforce is uninformed about and unengaged in health promotion and prevention activities. Too many in the workforce also lack familiarity with resilience- and recovery-oriented practices and are generally reluctant to engage children, youth, and adults, and their families, in collaborative relationships that involve shared decision-making about treatment options. It takes well over a decade for proven interventions to make their way into practice, since prevention and treatment services are driven more by tradition than by science. The workforce lacks the racial diversity of the populations it serves and is far too often insensitive to the needs of individuals, as these are affected by ethnicity, culture, and language. In large sections of rural America, there simply is no mental health or addictions workforce.

This Executive Summary gives an overview of key findings of a multiyear process that led to this Action Plan for strengthening the behavioral health workforce. In order to address the workforce crisis described above, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) commissioned the Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce to develop an Action Plan on workforce development that encompasses the breadth of this field and is national in scope. The planning process was intended to build on previous workforce planning efforts, including the CSAT sponsored report on Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addiction Treatment Workforce (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2005a).

Link to Resource: http://www.samhsa.gov/workforce/annapolis/workforceactionplan.pdf
Organization: Annapolis Coalition
Date: 2007

Category:Topic Area -> Workforce
Category:Intervention -> Organizational development
Category:Type of Resource -> Report