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

January 16, 2019

Policy Brief

Authors: Janet C. Frank, DrPH, Kathryn G. Kietzman, PhD, MSW, Alina Palimaru

The Workforce, Education and Training component of California’s Mental Health Services Act, which passed in 2004, has infused resources into the public mental health system. However, these resources have 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. 

A series of recommendations to improve workforce preparation and distribution are presented to specific audiences: state policy makers and administrators; educational institutions, accrediting bodies, and licensing boards; and county mental health/behavioral health departments and their contracted providers.

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