About CHRT

Understanding behavioral health workforce challenges and identifying opportunities (BHWRC)

September 2021 – August 2022
Client(s): University of Michigan Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (BHWRC)
Funder: U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

U-M’s Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center aims to strengthen the workforce responsible for prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders by conducting studies to inform workforce development and planning efforts. Current research studies focus on:

1) Support for behavioral health providers during public health emergencies. This project seeks to understand the impact of public health emergencies – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – on behavioral health care providers and clients. As the demand for behavioral health services has continued to increase since the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to have an understanding of providers’ needs and assess whether adequate supports are in place for those working to meet the challenges of the current mental health crisis. In this study we review existing literature, collect qualitative information on best practices, and analyze relevant data sources.

2) Community Health Workers as extenders of the behavioral health workforce in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). The goal of this study is to understand how CCBHCs in the 10 demonstration states (Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania) could employ CHWs to connect patients with integrated physical and behavioral services. CHWs are trusted frontline workers, but are underutilized in the behavioral health setting due to a lack of understanding around what services CHWs can provide, and oftentimes, issues of reimbursement. This study seeks to identify areas where CHWs can be integrated into roles within the CCBHC workflow and how they could impact the behavioral health workforce (ex: what populations they serve, what services they provide, and how their role could impact caseloads or demand for behavioral health services).

3) The role of primary care practices and providers in increasing access to integrated models of primary and behavioral health care in Michigan. The main goal of this project is to understand the types of behavioral health providers that integrate services into the primary care setting in rural and urban areas in Michigan. To address this goal, the project analyzes claims data in Michigan from 2019-2021 and looks at data on behavioral health conditions, provider types, and services, with a particular focus on telehealth and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) services. This project also includes an initial literature review and collection of national benchmark data as needed for reference.

CHRT’s role:

Complete three studies: 1) Support for behavioral health providers during public health emergencies, 2) Community health workers as extenders of the behavioral health workforce in certified community behavioral health clinics, and 3) The role of the behavioral health workforce in integrated models of primary and behavioral health care via telemedicine in rural and underserved areas of Michigan.

In addition, CHRT’s health policy director, Nancy Baum, serves as the deputy director of the BHWRC and offers leadership and support to the BHWRC director and team to ensure that all studies and projects, including additional “rapid response” projects, are completed on time and within scope.