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.

This project will address the following research questions: 

  1. how do systems-level factors (e.g. facility characteristic, state finance/delivery models, scopes of practice) influence behavioral health workforce capacity, 
  2. which systems-level factors impact how the behavioral health workforce effectively delivers service, and 
  3. which data sources are available to quantify the variability in behavioral health systems-level factors? 

Results will inform behavioral health workforce policy development, specifically around identifying and removing barriers related to behavioral health workforce capacity so that opportunities may be better targeted where needed most.


Flexibility in service policy, regulations, and delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic positively impacted providers’ ability to continue serving clients. Service delivery and billing flexibility was a major factor in continuity of services for all of providers because they were able to pivot to and bill for telebehavioral health services. Respondents reported lower no-show rates and increased engagement when they were able to offer telebehavioral health options ranging from telephonic to video services.

Staffing shortages, recruitment challenges and staff turnover and burnout had a negative impact on capacity before and during the pandemic. Eighty-nine percent of respondents named counseling services as significantly impacted by staffing shortages. Promoting self-care among staff as an effort to reduce burnout was also mentioned by a respondent.

Opportunities for further research on systems-level factors include investigating innovation in service delivery models following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, resiliency of the behavioral health workforce, and the perceived quality of telebehavioral health services following the rapid adoption of telebehavioral health.