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New Task Force To Study Behavioral Health Workforce Concerns

group discussion

The majority of localities across Virginia are experiencing a severe shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. A new statewide task force is being formed to explore ways to address this.

While Medicaid expansion is creating an opportunity for thousands of people to enroll in healthcare coverage, it’s also creating a demand for more behavioral health specialists, says Sara Dunnigan, Governor Ralph Northam’s Deputy Chief Workforce Development Advisor.

“As the population grows in the state, the number of people who need services is going to naturally grow due to the prevalence of these issues in the overall population,” said Rhonda Thissen, Executive Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia. According to the education and advocacy group, one in five people experience some sort of mental illness every year.

The work group will look into ways to entice more people to not only join the behavioral health workforce, but to also take jobs in rural areas where the shortage is often more pronounced. They’d tentatively like to come up with a set of final recommendations to introduce in Virginia’s 2020 General Assembly session.


Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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