Workforce Development and Mental Health Transformation: A State Perspective

Abstract

The existence of a workforce crisis in behavioral health has been recognized for decades. However, workforce problems often have been viewed as too large, too complex, and too daunting for individual states to tackle. This article reviews the progress of one state in systematically strengthening its workforce as part of a federally supported effort to transform mental health services. The workforce priorities in Connecticut are identified and the specific workforce transformation projects and their impact are described. The success in sustaining these initiatives after cessation of federal support is reviewed. The authors conclude by offering five recommendations to guide comprehensive state workforce development. This work has particular salience for the many states across the nation that have identified behavioral health service and workforce needs as obstacles to comprehensive health care reform.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    SAMHSA (2014) recently added workforce development as one of six goals in its strategic plan, Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 20152018.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the State of Connecticut through the SAMHSA Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant (MHT-SIG) No. SM57456. The authors acknowledge Thomas Kirk, Patricia Rehmer, and Barbara Bugella for their leadership in making this work possible.

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Correspondence to Michael A. Hoge.

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Hoge, M.A., Wolf, J., Migdole, S. et al. Workforce Development and Mental Health Transformation: A State Perspective. Community Ment Health J 52, 323–331 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-015-9953-6

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Keywords

  • Workforce development
  • Mental health
  • Transformation
  • States
  • Health care reform