The behavioral health workforce, which encompasses a broad range of professions providing prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services for mental health conditions and substance use disorders, is in the midst of what is considered by many to be a workforce crisis. The workforce shortage can be attributed to both insufficient numbers and maldistribution of workers, leaving some communities with no behavioral health providers. In addition, demand for behavioral health services has increased more rapidly as a result of federal legislation over the past decade supporting mental health and substance use parity and by healthcare reform. In order to address workforce capacity issues that impact access to care, the field must engage in extensive planning; however, these efforts are limited by the lack of timely and useable data on the behavioral health workforce. One method for standardizing data collection efforts is the adoption of a Minimum Data Set. This article describes workforce data limitations, the need for standardizing data collection, and the development of a behavioral health workforce Minimum Data Set intended to address these gaps. The Minimum Data Set includes five categorical data themes to describe worker characteristics: demographics, licensure and certification, education and training, occupation and area of practice, and practice characteristics and settings. Some data sources align with Minimum Data Set themes, although deficiencies in the breadth and quality of data exist. Development of a Minimum Data Set is a foundational step for standardizing the collection of behavioral health workforce data. Key challenges for dissemination and implementation of the Minimum Data Set are also addressed. Supplement information: This article is part of a supplement entitled The Behavioral Health Workforce: Planning, Practice, and Preparation, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Beck, A. J., Singer, P. M., Buche, J., Manderscheid, R. W., & Buerhaus, P. (2018). Improving Data for Behavioral Health Workforce Planning: Development of a Minimum Data Set. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54(6), S192–S198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2018.01.035