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Improving Access and Quality: The Role of Frontline Staff at Behavioral and Mental Health Careers

David Altstadt

Behavioral and mental health institutions face a workforce crisis that threatens to erode access to treatment. Many workers in the field are nearing retirement, while turnover is stubbornly high—as high as 90 percent each year by some estimates. Unless agencies can replace and retain skilled workers, fewer Americans struggling with mental health disorders and substance abuse will receive treatment. As it is, only 44 percent of the 25 million adults with mental health disorders receive care and only 10 percent of the nearly 24 million with substance abuse problems.

This Jobs to Careers brief focuses on successful efforts to train frontline workers at behavioral and mental health facilities across four states (Alaska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island). Through this training, these workers are advancing their own careers and helping meet the growing needs of behavioral and mental health care patients.

This piece is one in a four-part series on advancing frontline workers across four health care subsectors. The complete series is as follows: