Resource Development Associates

Opportunities to Advance California’s Public Mental Health Workforce

By Kevin Wu, M.P.H.

California’s public mental health system (PMHS) is the largest in the Country, and its foundation is the PMHS workforce, which strives to provide high quality services that meet the needs of consumers. In 2016-17, the Office of Statewide Planning and Development (OSHPD) sought to better understand the future of PMHS workforce needs across the State. To do this, OSHPD partnered with RDA to 1) conduct an analysis of the needs for the State’s PMHS workforce, and 2) provide guidance for creating a planning model aimed at addressing the identified needs. The resulting plan would help the agency advance programs that are intended to grow and develop the PMHS workforce, including loan assumption programs for licensed providers, professional training opportunities, and peers training and placements.

By conducting interviews with mental health workforce experts across California and nationally, as well as an in-depth review of the literature base, the State’s public mental health workforce needs became clearer. RDA also reviewed many reputable workforce planning models and strategies from the United States and internationally, synthesized all of the key elements, then produced its own extensive set of recommendations for OSHPD in creating their own PMHS workforce planning models. RDA’s partnership with OSHPD to analyze California’s current PMHS workforce trends, anticipate future PMHS workforce needs, and strategically plan to address identified gaps and vulnerabilities of the system’s workforce resulted in comprehensive plans to advance California’s mental health system. OSHPD is now equipped to allocate its funding and programming proactively to ensure that citizens who need mental health services are able and empowered to receive mental healthcare from a robust and qualified public mental health system workforce. Our summarized report to OSHPD on the state’s PMHS workforce is available here.

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