Workforce Recruitment and Retention
One of the best strategies for providing community mental health services is recruiting a quality
workforce and retaining this workforce into the future. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the mental health workforce is one of the fastest growing in
the country. Despite this growth, there is a shortage of mental health workers and this severely
impacts rural communities. Generally, the mental health workforce is made up of psychiatrists,
psychologists, social workers, and counselors.
A study on rural mental health workforce
recruitment in Nebraska defines the main factors that impact recruitment and retention as:
- National and local competition for mental health employment positions
- Medicaid requirements related to billing and reimbursement
- Lack of funding to support competitive pay
- Licensing requirements
- Whether or not an individual gets reimbursed for supervising a new employee
- Education and training
- Workload and resources for complex cases
- Geographic isolation
- Employment opportunity for spouses
- Cultural differences
Although they may vary across rural areas, the combination of these factors makes it difficult to
recruit and retain a rural mental health workforce.
The Nebraska study provides potential solutions to this problem that rural communities can replicate,
including higher pay and perks for mental health employees, rural residency programs, and loan
For more on this topic, refer to the RHIhub's Recruitment
and Retention for Rural Health Facilities Topic Guide.
Resources to Learn More
Bureau of Health Workforce
Overview of several issues related to rural healthcare workforce, including shortage designations and funding
Organization(s): Health Resources and Services Administration
Recruitment and Retention of Mental Health Care
Providers in Rural Nebraska: Perceptions of Providers and Administrators
Analyzes the factors that influence recruitment as well as retention of mental health workers in
rural communities throughout Nebraska and shows that a comprehensive approach is necessary.
Author(s): Watanabe-Galloway S., Madison L., Watkins K., Nguyen, A., & Chen, L.
Citation: Rural and Remote Health, 15, 3392
Provides an overview of the behavioral health workforce with links to further resources regarding
addressing challenges within the workforce and diverse communities.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration