Building The Mental Health Workforce Capacity Needed To Treat Adults With Serious Mental Illnesses

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

There are widespread shortages of mental health professionals in the United States, especially for the care of adults with serious mental illnesses. Such shortages are aggravated by maldistribution of mental health professionals and attractive practice opportunities treating adults with less severe conditions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation extending mental health parity coverage are contributing to an increasing demand for mental health services. This paper considers four policy recommendations to reinvigorate the mental health workforce to meet the rising mental health care demand by adults with serious mental illnesses: expanding loan repayment programs for mental health professionals to practice in underserved areas; raising Medicaid reimbursement for treating serious mental illness; increasing training opportunities for social workers in relevant evidence-based psychosocial services; and disseminating service models that integrate mental health specialists as consultants in general medical care. Achieving progress in attracting mental health professionals to care for adults with serious mental illnesses will require vigorous policy interventions.

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