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Report: California Facing Major Shortage Of Behavioral Health Professionals

The Univerisity of California San Francisco Parnassus Heights campus is shown...

Credit: UC San Francisco

Above: The Univerisity of California San Francisco Parnassus Heights campus is shown in this undated photo.

A new report from UC San Francisco's Healthforce Center finds if current trends continue, California will have 41 percent fewer psychiatrists than needed, and 11 percent fewer psychologists than needed by 2028.

The aging of California behavioral health workforce is a major factor.

The report reveals 37 percent of psychologists and 45 percent of psychiatrists in California are over the age of 60.

Janet Coffman, associate professor of health policy at UCSF and co-author of the report, said the state needs to make some investments to meet future demand.

“Even though most of us are working longer than ever before, when folks get into their 60s or their 70s, even if they don’t retire, they often reduce their work hours," Coffman said. "So, we’re really in California needing to think, how can we substitute for these folks?”

Coffman said one possible solution would be to adopt a team-based approach, where psychiatrists could operate as a coach and consultant to primary care doctors.

But Coffman believes one way or another, the state needs to increase training for psychiatrists.

In terms of the current state of affairs, the report finds the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley have low per capita ratios of mental health professionals compared to other parts of the state.

In addition, the report also finds African-Americans and Latinos are underrepresented among psychologists and psychiatrists.

California needs to find a way to replace its aging behavioral health workforce, according to a new report from UCSF's Healthforce Center.


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