The Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center is engaged in several projects designed to improve data collection, estimate workforce size and composition, and assess practice activities for all workers involved in prevention and/or treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Center projects address three focus areas.

Current Research Projects

Assessing Behavioral Health Workforce Surge Needs due to COVID-19

Exposures to traumatic events may be associated with poor behavioral health outcomes. Findings from a previous COVID-19 literature review indicate that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress, and anxiety are more likely to be present for months and years in individuals exposed to public health crises.

Read More

Behavioral Health Payment Models Post-COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic has altered practice patterns and usage of behavioral health services, making explicit the consequences of paying too little for essential behavioral health care, or providing no mechanism for expansion and redistribution of the most valuable services to those who need them. Federal and state legislation, regulatory adjustments, executive orders and payor guidance seek to address the current pandemic crisis as well as decades of disparities in behavioral health access, acceptance, training, and payments.

Read More

Determining Satisfaction of Telebehavioral Health Quality of Care from a Provider and Client Perspective

Previous findings suggest that telebehavioral health care can help overcome challenges in accessing behavioral health services and may reduce the existing treatment gap; however, adoption of telehealth by behavioral health providers has lagged behind primary care and other physical health providers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid expansion in the use of telebehavioral health services.

Read More

Estimating Supply of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Providers

Studies on the behavioral health workforce of the United States repeatedly show low proportions of providers specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents, as well as geographic maldistribution of said workforce. This lack of access to care may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which a transition to distance learning could disrupt students’ access to behavioral health providers stationed at schools.

Read More

Paraprofessionals Models of Care

Paraprofessionals are an essential component of the behavioral health workforce, helping to fill gaps in the delivery of care. As paraprofessionals are integrated into behavioral health delivery systems they provide needed access to behavioral health services.

Read More

Peers in the Behavioral Health Workforce: Costs and Contributions

Lack of consistency in training requirements and role definition among peer providers make rigorous comparative effectiveness studies difficult to conduct. Published literature primarily focuses on peer services to treat serious mental illness. This study, which began in Fall 2019 and is conducted jointly by the HWRCs at the University of Michigan and the University of California-San Francisco, will separately consider peer services in mental health treatment facilities and substance use treatment facilities.

Read More

Summary of Paraprofessional Accreditation in the United States

Paraprofessionals are unique in that they often require minimal formal education and training compared to clinical behavioral health providers, meaning they are an easier workforce to build quickly. To better understand this emerging sector of the behavioral health workforce, both a review of state requirements for these paraprofessional categories and an environmental scan of influential accreditors and organizations in the field must be conducted.

Read More

Supporting Paraprofessionals and Strengthening Resilience among Providers

Paraprofessional behavioral health providers are employed across a variety of settings, many of which may expose them to high-stress situations. Resilience, or the capacity to recover from challenges, is a key factor for successfully navigating high-stress environments in which paraprofessionals work. This study will identify and examine the factors that contribute to the development of paraprofessionals’ resiliency to inform training mythology and development of strategies to best support this workforce.

Read More

Effect of Utilization Management Restrictions on Patients’ Provider Access and Treatment for Opioid Dependence

In 2017, only 25% of individuals received one of three Food and Drug Administration approved medications effected at treating opioid use disorder (OUR) from a substance use disorder treatment facility, despite over half of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. Utilization restrictions may be a significant coverage barrier to accessing these medications as treatment. 

Read More

Examining the Use of and Workforce Being Financed by the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) Codes

Integrated behavioral health (IBH) is an evidence-based model of care to ensure individuals have increased access to behavioral health screening, assessment, and treatment. In 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Management (CoMC) billing codes to support the growth of IBH. CMS also released CoCM G-codes for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to bill for behavioral health integration.

Read More

Geographic Distribution of Behavioral Health Providers and Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

Medicaid is the largest single payer for behavioral health services, and managed care is the predominant delivery system for Medicaid enrollees. Medicaid financing facilitates access to behavioral health resources, including psychiatric care, counseling, prescription medications, inpatient treatment, case management and supportive housing; this access increased with mandates under the ACA and with Medicaid expansion in many states. However, states have the flexibility to decide if behavioral health providers and their services are reimbursable and subject to same-day billing restrictions.

Read More

Identifying Systems Factors that Influence Workforce Capacity

The Health Resources and Services Administration developed projections to better understand behavioral health workforce needs by 2025. These projections predict that by 2025, each behavioral health profession will experience a shortage. Thus, there is a need to further investigate factors that impact behavioral health workforce capacity.

Read More

Models of Behavioral Health Care

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects shortfalls of works across most occupations. However, these studies do not consider specific models of behavioral health care and how supply and demand estimates may change in the context of these alternative care models. Thus, this study seeks to collect and analyze data on four models of care to determine effects on workforce capacity.

Read More

Peers in the Behavioral Health Workforce: Costs and Contributions

Peer support workers are individuals who have lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder. Current studies have sought to determine the effectiveness of using peer support workers in the provision of behavioral health services, the results of which offer conflicting results, as well as weak evidence and a lack of methodological rigor.

Read More

Workforce Development Opportunities to Advance Behavioral Telehealth

As the demand for behavioral health services and substance use disorder treatment increases, so does the amount of individuals not receiving mental health services or substance use disorder treatment. This lack of access is a result of barriers to behavioral health services coupled with inadequate funding, workforce capacity and maldistribution issues, and a lack of specialty services. In order to increase access, there is a demand for innovative ways to provide mental health and addiction services.

Read More

Workforce Capacity and the Opioid Crisis: Focus on Shortage and Maldistribution

The goal of this study is to develop a quantitative workforce capacity score to better characterize shortage, maldistribution, and needed workforce resources to combat the growing opioid crisis in the United States.

Read More