Association Executive Directors Community

Behavioral health workforce initiatives in Michigan

  • 1.  Behavioral health workforce initiatives in Michigan

    Posted 12-06-2023 13:14

    Colleagues - Given the work of the National Council and the Association Executives to address the deep and prolonged behavioral health workforce gap, we thought that it made sense to share with you a short summary of the work of our association and our members in this area. Below are summaries of some of those efforts.

    Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions regarding any of these initiatives or related issues.

    CMHA and LEO issue Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Behavioral Health – Social Work: Toolkit for partners to help promote social work careers in Michigan:  Thanks to our long-standing partnership with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), CMHA has been able to collaborate, with LEO, on the construction of a Social Worker Promotional Toolkit. This tool kit is designed to support the recruitment of young adults, into the field of social work and, more broadly, human services, and promote social work career opportunities across the state. This toolkit contains sample language for websites, emails, and social media posts, as well as recommended language for various professionals, including high school guidance counselors, college academic advisors, and behavioral health providers. There are also photographic materials located on the last page for outreach usage. The tool kit can be found here.

    Practice-based path to social work licensure: CMHA and strong and growing coalition are involved in efforts to replace, in Michigan, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) test requirement with a practice-based path to social work licensure. That coalition is a powerful one, including the Michigan Association of Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools of Social Work (the 14 MSW and PhD/DSW programs in the state), the National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter, and CMHA. The work of this coalition has led to the introduction of two bills designed to make this change, eliminating a longstanding barrier to social workers in their effort to become licensed. Those bills recently came before the House Behavioral Health Policy Committee later this week, with testimony provided by the Deans and Directors, NASW-Michigan, and CMHA in support of these bills. The CMHA testimony is attached. Additionally, our association recently received strong financial support, by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund of the work of this coalition. This grant, from the Health Fund, will be a key resource in this effort.

    Expedited MSW Stipend Program: As part of the FY 24 budget bill, an expedited MSW stipend program was included. This effort has been developed and led by CMHA, NASW-Michigan, and the Michigan Association of the Deans and Directors of the Graduate Schools of Social Work and will provide a sizeable stipend ($30,000) to persons with Bachelors in Social Work who enroll in one of a number of Advanced Standing MSW program in Michigan (allowing BSW degree holders obtain their MSW within a single year, rather than the traditional two-year MSW path) with the commitment by these stipend recipients to work in public sector social work/behavioral health settings for two years after graduation from their MSW program. The budget bill language is provided below:

    Section 1914

    The department shall allocate $5,000,000.00 to provide funding to at least 150 individuals who have obtained a bachelor's degree in social work that agree to immediately enter an accelerated, 1-year, master's of social work program. Grant recipients must also commit to a minimum of 2 years of public sector behavioral health work in the state, immediately following completion of an accelerated, 1-year, master's of social work program, in areas including, but not limited to, community mental health, substance use disorder programs, crisis intervention, local crisis call centers, mobile crisis care, crisis stabilization, psychiatric emergency services, and rapid postcrisis care. 

    Statewide virtual job fair focused on behavioral health clinicians: CMHA is sponsoring a series of statewide Virtual Job Fairs (VJF), built using resources provided by LEO, to improve the recruitment reach of CMHA member organizations in communities across the state. LEO has provided CMHA with access to the electronic VJF platform upon which the Virtual Job Fair will be built and implemented. The VJF allows behavioral health employers, from any community in Michigan, to recruit potential employees from across the staff via a virtual "booth" at the Virtual Job Fair. Job seekers will be able to visit as many booths as they would like to talk to recruiters, from CMHA member organizations, about employment opportunities within their organizations. Jobseekers can upload their resume and/or LinkedIn for employers to see throughout the VJF.  The initial VJF will focus on masters level clinicians and is slated for February 2024, a prime time to reach students graduating in the spring of 2024.

    Local and regional efforts by CMHA members to address workforce shortage: The efforts, above, parallel and support the innovative work being done by the state's CMHSPs, PIHPs, and providers to recruit and retain talented Michiganders in their workforces – from tuition reimbursement to paid internships, from loan repayment to mentorships, from strengthened internship programs to outreach to students in high school and higher education institutions. CMHA has compiled samples of the descriptions of those efforts submitted by our members. The actions being taken, as outlined in the attached, represent a wide range of innovate approaches to workforce recruitment and retention. That compilation is attached.

    Recommendations to close the behavioral health workforce gap: One of the central components of CMHA workforce efforts, fundamental to those listed above, has been the development, by CMHA and its members, of a set of proposals for addressing the state's behavioral health workforce shortage – with both immediate and longer-term approaches. This document has formed the basis for a number of discussions with MDHHS as the Department develops and implements its plans to close the workforce gap and can be found here:

    Robert Sheehan

    Chief Executive Officer

    Community Mental Health Association of Michigan

    507 South Grand Avenue

    2nd floor

    Lansing, MI 48933

    517.374.6848 main

    517.237.3142 direct

    Robert Sheehan
    Community Mental Health Association of Michigan
    Lansing MI