CHA News Article

California to Face Critical Shortage of Behavioral Health Workers

A research report released Feb. 12 by the University of California, San Francisco’s Healthforce Center forecasts dire shortages of behavioral health professionals in California by 2028. The report warns that current 10-year projections show a significantly inadequate supply of behavioral health professionals and an imbalance in the geographic and racial distribution of these workers.

California’s aging behavioral health workforce is a primary cause of the impending shortages. While all behavioral health occupations will face major deficiencies, shortages of psychiatrists and psychologists are of critical concern, as one in four will reach retirement age over the next decade.

In addition to addressing workforce shortages, the report also urges action in solving the inequitable geographic supply of behavioral health professionals in the state. The research shows that training for, and availability of, behavioral health professionals are disproportionate to per-capita demand in several areas throughout California. Furthermore, the report highlights the importance of addressing the underrepresentation of Latino and African American workers among most behavioral health professions.

The report concludes that California must make considerable and immediate investments in the development, distribution and racial composition of its behavioral health workforce. In order to meet future demands of its populace, the report recommends that the state increase the workforce supply, balance unequal distribution of workers and increase the ethnic diversity of behavioral health professionals.