Opportunities to Advance California’s Public Mental Health Workforce

Opportunities to Advance California’s Public Mental Health Workforce

March 23, 2018

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.

One Small Planet

It is impossible to look back over the events of the past year and not viscerally feel the interconnectedness between ourselves, our families, our communities, and the rest of the world. The struggles of other countries, even other states, that once felt like distant concerns confined to the evening news now take on a different meaning. The pandemic and its economic devastation; the urgent cries for racial justice; the ever-increasing threat of wildfires, hurricanes, and other climate-change-driven disasters: these challenges belong to all of us.

safety net, public services, triage, strategy, prioritize, COVID-19

Moving from Crisis to Chronic

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are still operating in crisis mode. We are exhausted, and the items we put on the shelf are starting to stack up. It’s time to revisit our triage plans, no matter how planful or ad hoc, and re-evaluate our priorities and resources.