California’s Behavioral Health Services Workforce Is Inadequate for Older Adults

Source: Janet C. Frank, Kathryn G. Kietzman, and Alina Palimaru, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Health Policy Brief, January 2019

The Workforce Education and Training component of California’s Mental Health Services Act, which passed in 2004, has infused funding into the public mental health system. However, funding has not kept pace with an existing behavioral health workforce shortage crisis, the rapid growth of an aging population, and the historical lack of geriatric training in higher education for the helping professions. This policy brief draws on recent study findings, state planning documents, and a review of the literature to describe gaps and deficiencies in the behavioral health workforce that serves older adults in California. The brief offers recommendations to the following specific audiences for improving workforce preparation and distribution: state policymakers and administrators; educational institutions, accrediting bodies, and licensing boards; and county mental health/behavioral health departments and their contracted providers…..