Training and Education Needs of Consumers, Families, and Front-Line Staff in Behavioral Health Practice

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Much of the behavioral health care delivered to people with serious mental illnesses and chronic addictive disorders is provided by front-line or direct service mental health workers. Issues related to the qualifications, training, and ongoing evaluation of the competencies of this important provider group have received scant attention in the behavioral health field. This paper explores the educational needs and best practices of the consumers and families who carry much of the burden of caring for disabled populations, as well as the front-line staff, many of whom are employed in state psychiatric hospitals and community mental health or addiction treatment systems. Within the overall context of culturally competent behavioral health care, specific recommendations are proposed in an attempt to move the field forward.