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Why This Matters
Ensuring the United States has an adequate supply of behavioral health providers has never been more important. Although the field is growing, the rate of unmet need has continued to rise over the past decade, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for behavioral health services, particularly for the treatment and prevention of serious mental illness and substance use disorder. In response, President Biden’s national mental strategy, as outlined in his 2022 State of the Union address, prioritizes strengthening system capacity to expand the supply and diversity of the workforce.
However, little is known about the behavioral health workforce – and it is hard to determine how many providers we need without knowing how many we have. While the educational pipeline for psychiatrists has been growing in recent years, and Health Resources Services Administration projections indicate that there will be similar growth for social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists, capturing the active behavioral health workforce has been elusive due to limited national data.
The George Washington University Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity, with support from a 3-year grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), developed a national database on the MH/SUD workforce. Using novel data sources, this comprehensive national database identifies nearly 1.2 million behavioral health providers, including physicians, psychologists, counselors, therapists, and advance practice providers. The goal of this database is to provide evidence-based support for policy making and appropriate targeting of resources
The Behavioral Health Workforce Tracker was created in partnership with HealthLandscape and was funded under grant number FG000028 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies, and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS and should not be construed as such.