Conference Addresses Innovations in Workforce Development
March 1, 2006
On February 14, 2006, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health hosted a conference to explore effective ways to address Texas' growing mental health workforce crisis. The conference, entitled "Innovations in Mental Health Workforce Development: Exploring the Potential for Texas," was held at the Hyatt Regency in Austin.
Recent reports from the Institute of Medicine and the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health have identified mental health workforce issues common among states, including a shortage of workers across professional disciplines, especially in rural areas; difficulties recruiting new workers and retaining qualified staff; the lack of cultural diversity among the existing workforce; and outdated educational content and teaching methods in professional and continuing education.
Three nationally known speakers addressed recent workforce developments around the country. John Morris, vice chair of the Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce, discussed the coalition's progress in building a national strategic plan for behavioral health workforce development, as recommended by the President's New Freedom Commission. Dennis Mohatt, senior program director for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, reviewed challenges and opportunities faced by his organization in advancing the preparation of a qualified mental health workforce in rural areas of 15 western states. Associate Vice President for Health at the University of Alaska Karen Perdue described Alaska's Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative, which created a university/state government/publicly endowed trust partnership.
David Wanser, deputy commissioner for Behavioral and Community Health Services at the Texas Department of State Health Services, addressed work being planned for Texas. Workforce development is a major focus of Texas' Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant, a five-year, multi-million dollar grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Participants had the opportunity to identify issues and approaches relevant to Texas when they divided into facilitated break-out groups. The information from the conference will drive the Hogg Foundation's activities in support of mental health workforce development.