News Release

University of Michigan receives $2.7 million grant to establish regional center for health workforce research

November 2, 2015 news release from the University of Michigan School of Public Health

The University of Michigan School of Public Health was awarded a $2.7 million grant to establish a regional center for health workforce research.   The U-M-based Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center, which is funded by the Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), joins a national network of seven centers that collects, analyzes and reports health workforce data. Michigan’s was the only newly-funded center in the country this year.

The Michigan center will focus on behavioral health with an emphasis on the mental health and substance abuse workforce.  

"Mental illness affects nearly 20% of the U.S. population, and demand for behavioral health care services is expected to increase in the coming years," says Angela Beck, principal investigator and director of the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center and research assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy. "Our center will conduct research to help produce a behavioral health workforce of sufficient size and skill to meet the nation’s behavioral health needs."

The center will engage a national consortium of experts from the professions who provide behavioral health prevention and treatment services.  Physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and peer counselors are among the health professions represented.

In year one of the three-year project, the center will conduct 12 research projects that will address three focus areas: 

  • Standardizing data collection for the behavioral health workforce; a complex task given the wide array of disciplines involved in behavioral health care
  • Developing a comprehensive profile of the size and composition of the national behavioral health workforce;
  • Assessing the legal and administrative authorities formally granted to behavioral health professionals throughout the 50 states so that they align with current professional responsibilities.

Years two and three of the grant will be used to engage in more comprehensive studies.

"This new center complements the work of our longstanding, CDC-funded Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies which focuses on studying and strengthening the nation’s public health workforce," said Matthew Boulton, professor of epidemiology and the new center’s deputy director.  "The presence of two federally-funded health workforce research centers here at Michigan is distinctive as it gives us the ability to impact workforce planning and policy in public health and behavioral health while fostering partnerships between the two fields". 

Michigan’s Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center will be featured at the 31st Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy to be hosted at the Carter Center November 12-13.

"An invitation to present on the focus of the new center at the Carter Symposium speaks volumes about the importance of our research on the national health workforce," said Beck.

Other U-M investigators involved with the project include Kyle Grazier, professor of Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health; and Brian Perron, associate professor, School of Social Work.


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