Workforce Development

Diverse Group of Workers
Workforce problems have an impact on almost every aspect of prevention
and treatment across all sectors of the diverse behavioral health field.
National Action Plan on the Behavioral Health Workforce, 2007.

Workforce development is designed to improve the behavioral health of individuals, families and communities by ensuring that there is a workforce of appropriate size, composition, and competency to address mental health and substance use related needs in a specific geographic area or the nation at large. There has been a longstanding consensus in the United States about the critical need to strengthen the behavioral health workforce. The Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers (MHTTCs) are committed to playing a key role in addressing that need.  

Workforce Framework
There are many workforce challenges in behavioral health and a myriad of strategies and tactics for strengthening the workforce. At times, the complexity is overwhelming to those provider organizations or policymakers that are engaged in workforce planning and intervention. The 2007 SAMHSA-funded national Action Plan on behavioral health workforce development identified a framework for organizing planning and action that focused on: (1) broadening the composition of the workforce, (2) strengthening the traditional workforce, and (3) creating structures to support the workforce. View this workforce framework.

Workforce Resources

In June 2019, the MHTTC Network Coordinating Office and Michael Hoge, Ph.D. from the Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce facilitated a webinar, Workforce Challenges and Solutions in Mental Health, in which major workforce challenges were briefly reviewed and an array of strategies for finding, keeping and building a more competent workforce were presented. Innovative practices from across the country were also highlighted.The recording for this webinar can be accessed here. The slide deck for this webinar, as well as the webinar recording transcription, are available for download in the MHTTC Products and Resources catalog.

In addition, there are a variety of websites and major reports that serve as resources for behavioral health workforce development. View the resource list.

Characteristics of the Workforce
Behavioral health has, perhaps, the most diverse workforce among all health care fields with respect to the types of providers.  Click here for more information.

Recruitment & Retention
Workforce recruitment and retention have long been identified as significant challenges in the behavioral health field. While these are simple terms, the issues are quite complex. Click here for more information.


Peer Support Workforce
The provision of support by and between individuals with a history of mental illness has a long tradition. What was once largely an informal process has evolved and expanded over the last few decades into a more formal peer support workforce. Click here for more information.


At the foundation of workforce training are the competencies that define the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to function effectively in the field of mental health. Click here for more information. 

Click here to recommend adding a specific workforce resource to the Resources list. 

Click here to report a Broken Link. 

In the next few months, there will be special sections on the following:

  • Training
  • Supervision & Coaching
  • Leadership Development
  • Direct Care Workers
  • Rural & Underserved Areas
  • Workforce Infrastructure