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Transforming California’s Behavioral Health Workforce

February 28, 2023

Two new reports released; webinar offered ways organizations can lead on this critical issue

California is facing a drastic shortfall of behavioral health care providers that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, an aging workforce, high turnover, poor geographic distribution, and a workforce that does not match the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of Californians.

Healthforce Center’s research, led by Dr. Janet Coffman, shows that the shortage can be alleviated with smart policy and continued investments that cultivate the next generation of providers. Such strategies include:

  • Sustain funding to expand training for licensed behavioral health professionals and improve financial supports for students.
  • Expand the use of paraprofessionals by continuing to roll out the Medi-Cal reimbursement for peer providers and community health workers.
  • Develop career and education ladders for workers as well as stackable credentials.
  • Maintain accurate and robust data sets on California’s behavioral health workforce.

A Healthforce Center webinar on February 13 featured a presentation by Dr. Janet Coffman on the landscape, challenges, and strategies for addressing shortages in this workforce. Then Dr. Sunita Mutha, director of Healthforce Center, moderated a panel discussion with Dr. Sandra Hernández, president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation, and Elizabeth Landsberg, director of the California Department of Health Care Access and Information. This vital discussion helps inform health care and workforce funders, policymakers, researchers, and other interested groups about opportunities for growing California’s behavioral health workforce.

See the two reports released in tandem with the webinar:

Watch the complete recording below:


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