Psychology workforce

Priority: Develop and maintain a diverse psychology workforce competent to develop and apply evidence-based behavioral and psychosocial assessments and interventions to address the current needs and changing demographics of our nation's population

"A workforce crisis." That's how the Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce describes the current state of affairs. There simply aren't enough mental and behavioral health providers to go around, according to the coalition's 2007 report. And many of those providers lack the training and support they need to deliver effective care.

The situation is especially dire when it comes to ethnic-minority providers. Although our nation is becoming more diverse every day, the vast majority of mental and behavioral health professionals are white. In some disciplines, more than 90 percent of providers are white.

We must expand and improve our nation's mental and behavioral workforce to meet the health-care needs of our increasingly diverse population. As both researchers and practitioners, psychologists have a key role to play in our health-care system.

Expanding, enhancing and diversifying our workforce will improve care.

  • Inadequate care. Although effective treatments exist for mental and substance abuse problems, many people don't get the care they need. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report found that even when people received care, their treatment was not always appropriate.
  • Ethnic-minority providers. Asians and people from multi-ethnic backgrounds are well-represented among recent psychology doctorates compared with their numbers in the overall population, according to a 2008 Monitor on Psychology article. Blacks and Hispanics, however, are under-represented.