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Behavioral health workforce: an ongoing crisis 

Mental health and substance use treatment organizations struggle to meet the increase in demand for services, due in large part to a national workforce shortage. This challenge has been exacerbated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Demand for behavioral health organizations’ services has continued to increase. At the same time, organizations are having trouble recruiting and retaining employees, and patient waitlists continue to grow. Competition for behavioral health workforce has only grown with new opportunities in telehealth and the entrance of private equity into the behavioral health market. The safety net providers are the most impacted and often have the least flexibility to address underlying factors leading to the shortages in large part due to regulation and administrative burden and underfunded payment models.   

HMA, in partnership with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (NatCon), developed a series of issue briefs outlining state policy and provider steps that can help to address the critical shortage.

HMA is also working with NatCon and the College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) to engage national partners using a collective impact framework to provide backbone support for organizations to work together in a more structured and action-oriented approach and to leverage various implementers (policy, regulatory, payers, providers, educators, etc.) to move recommendations to action.   

Behavioral Health Workforce is a National Crisis: Immediate Policy Actions for States 

View Issue Brief

Actions to Address the National Workforce Shortage and Improve Care

View Issue Brief

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Emerging Opportunities for the Behavioral Health Workforce 

View Issue Brief

HMA can help state policy makers and provider organizations with workforce support and problem solving, workforce assessment, strategy and policy design.

Our team of experts includes clinicians with on-the-ground experience as well as previous policy makers. We’ve worked within the certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC) model and provide technical assistance to organizations planning for its adoption. We have experience in extending it beyond the demonstration utilizing Medicaid state plan amendments (SPA) or 1115 waivers to enhance the workforce.

HMA capabilities

Identifying effective workforce strategies including training and maximizing of multi-disciplinary teams (e.g., peers, behavioral health providers, nurses, licensed health care providers). 

Policy and system design for behavioral health services and workforce expansion 

Managed Care Organizations (MCO) strategy and program design as well as strategies to enhance the provider network 

Conducting certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC) readiness and implementation support. 

Maximizing virtual and technology interventions. 

Convening stakeholders and building partnerships across sectors. 

HMA is positioned to support

State Medicaid agencies 

State and local departments of health, public health, behavioral health, and child welfare 

Health plans & Managed Care Organizations  

Hospitals & health systems  

Provider organizations 

Community-based organizations  

Foundations & advocacy organizations

Certified community behavioral health clinics 

School-based behavioral health

Correctional health & juvenile justice systems 

Contact our experts:

Paul Fleissner

Paul Fleissner

Managing Principal

Working to integrate services across systems and communities, Paul Fleissner is a seasoned executive who has developed programs and policies … Read more
Allie Franklin

Allie Franklin


Allie Franklin is a licensed clinical social worker with decades of experience in public, private, and non-profit behavioral health, healthcare, … Read more
Gina Lasky

Gina Lasky

Senior Advisor

Gina Lasky is a licensed psychologist with expertise in public sector behavioral health system design and programming including integration of … Read more