Behavioral Health Workforce Issues

State of Washington Governor Jay Inslee reports that the State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board in partnership with the Health Workforce Council are going to evaluate current and projected workforce shortages in behavioral health.

Behavioral health encompasses mental health as well as behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. Integrating primary care and behavioral health services is a revolutionary change in how services are going to be delivered in the coming years.

The State’s Workforce Board staffs the Health Workforce Council which includes representatives from a broad range of healthcare stakeholders. The stakeholders include education and training institutions, healthcare organizations, migrant and community health services, labor and professional associations, and employer organizations.

The Workforce Board and the Council are going to develop a plan to help ensure enough licensed or certified physical and behavioral health professionals are available to meet the demand. They will also explore the role of community health workers in supporting people with physical or behavioral health issues.

The Governor said, “This evaluation will establish a baseline for behavioral health workforce shortages and provide a plan on how to improve and coordinate the right services for patients.

We need to understand how and where our citizens receive services, identify providers to meet those needs, and expand training opportunities.” The Workforce Board will make recommendations to Governor Inslee in October 2016 with a final analysis and report due December 2017.

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