The purpose of this project is to develop a uniform set of measures for the behavioral health workforce that will standardize data collection procedures and improve data quality across occupations and practice settings. This project has multiple components:

  • A definition of “behavioral health worker” was established to determine what population of workers will be included in the Center’s research projects. The Center’s study population includes all workers responsible for prevention and/or treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.
  • An MDS was drafted based on a taxonomy of common terms related to behavioral health worker demographics, educational background, licensing and certification, and characteristics and practice settings. The MDS was vetted with subject matter experts, professional organizations, and focus group participants.
  • A comprehensive analysis of existing workforce data sources was conducted to assess national and state-based data sets that may be used to populate an MDS and identify gaps in workforce data that may need to be addressed through primary data collection.
  • A pilot study will be conducted to test the MDS through primary data collection.


The Center has released two policy briefs and a full report summarizing this work. The pilot study will be conducted in the second project year (September 2016-August 2017). Learn more about MDS work for health professions at: