The workforce crisis is the single most critical issue facing community behavioral health in Washington.
According to the Washington Council’s State of the Community Behavioral Health System Report:
- Demand for mental health and substance use services has risen 30-40%
- However, providers across the state are experiencing increased vacancy rates across all departments
- On average, it is taking providers over eight months to fill critical staff positions
- As a result of the shortage, 74% of community behavioral health providers have limited or closed admissions to outpatient services
- Wait times are increasing – with many clients waiting an average of 4-6 weeks after their initial assessment to receive therapy or other services
Across the state, providers are unable to offer competitive compensation based on Washington’s current funding model, and are having to make adjustments to cope with limited capacity. Unfortunately, for many providers, this has meant turning away those seeking services at alarming rates.
Fourfront Contributor is supporting several short- and long-term solutions to address the current workforce shortage:
Short-term solutions include
- Expanding public sector investment in student loan repayment programs.
- Supporting licensure reciprocity with neighboring states.
- Expanding access to peer counselor credentialing, including designating agencies such as the Fourfront Contributor member organizations as training sites.
Long-term solutions include
- Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model adoption
- The CCBHC model is a nationally proven, evidence-based approach that will support sustainable community behavioral health services.
- Learn more about CCBHCs here.