behavioral health workforce


The field of behavioral health is in the midst of a workforce crisis.1 The passage of legislation promoting insurance coverage expansion and prohibiting benefit limitations for mental health and substance use disorder treatment has spurred demand for services.2 Nationally, however, there is insufficient supply of providers- especially in rural communities- and recruitment and retention of providers is an ongoing challenge.1,3 In addition to concerns about supply and shortage, there is a need to train the current workforce in a number of different areas1, including health promotion and prevention services, cultural competence, treatment of co-occurring disorders, and integrated care service delivery.

To learn about and help address these and other challenges, the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Montana State University and the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health are pleased to co-sponsor a four-part webinar series in February, March, April, and May 2017.   

  • The first webinar, “Research to Strengthen Behavioral Health Workforce Capacity”, which will be held on February 16th, 1:00 pm EST, provides an overview of the state of the behavioral health workforce in terms of size, composition and characteristics. It will also summarize efforts underway by the SAMHSA/HRSA-funded Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center to conduct studies to build workforce capacity. Register HERE
  • The second webinar, “Solving the BH Workforce Crisis:  Award-Winning Tools for Growing your Pipeline of Providers”, which will be held March 30th, 1:00 pm EST, addresses workforce development challenges and highlights ongoing efforts in Nebraska and New Mexico to bolster the behavioral health workforce pipeline. Register HERE
  • The third webinar, “Changes and Constants in National Behavioral Health”, which will be held April 13th, 1:00 pm EST, focuses on legislative and policy changes and their potential impact on the behavioral health workforce. Register HERE
  • The final webinar "The Challenges and Opportunities facing the Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Workforce” will be held on May 11th, 1pm EST. Register HERE

This webinar series will highlight some of the factors impeding behavioral health workforce development, as well as opportunities to address them. The importance of collecting standardized workforce data to inform planning efforts will be emphasized, as will issues around provider scopes of practice and recruitment of diverse providers. The impact of recent and proposed future legislative and policy changes on behavioral health workforce planning and development will also be considered.

We look forward to your joining us in this webinar series!

Peter Buerhaus and Angela Beck


  1. Annapolis Coalition. (2007). An Action Plan for Behavioral Health Workforce Development. Cincinnati, OH: Annapolis Coalition.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Report to Congress on the Nation’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Workforce Issues. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Health Resources and Services Administration. Shortage Designation: Heath Professional Shortage Areas & Medically Underserved Areas/Populations.