A report completed at the behest of county leadership found that the San Diego region will need to add more than 18,500 behavioral health workers in the next five years to meet the community’s mental health and addiction treatment needs. announced on Monday.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership report found that by 2027 the San Diego region will need those additional behavioral health workers to keep up with growing needs and population growth. It also offers several solutions to address the issue – including the creation of a $128 million workforce training fund and the development of regional training centers.
“We have invested at unprecedented levels in new mental health and addiction treatment services, but finding enough trained behavioral health workers has proven to be difficult,” said County Supervisor Chairman Nathan Fletcher. “To create a robust continuum of care that provides a better way for patients to receive treatment, we need the right kind of workers, and right now the behavioral system region across the region is understaffed .
“With the data in this report and the recommendations it outlines, our region now has a roadmap to grow and diversify its workforce,” he said. “To do this, we need the support of the private sector, non-profit organizations and government.”
The report, “Addressing San Diego’s Behavioral Health Worker Shortage,” states that by 2027, the San Diego region needs approximately 27,600 behavioral health workers to meet unmet behavioral health needs while keeping pace with population growth.
Based on employment trends, approximately 7,800 behavioral health workers in the country are expected to leave the profession by 2027. Starting with nearly 17,000 workers in the field today, the San Diego region needs to educate, train, attract, hire and/or or retain 18,500 professionals between 2022 and 2027.
“Some of what this report says may seem shocking. The sheer size of the workforce increase required sets a massively ambitious goal,” said Luke Bergmann, director of the county’s Behavioral Health Services. “But we must be ambitious if we want behavioral health to be what it should be: at least on an equal footing with the rest of health care. This report is an anchor for the work that will transform behavioral health in the San Diego County.”