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Today the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a policy introduced by Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to have the County explore and develop plans for how it can implement the recommendations detailed in the behavioral health workforce report Chair Fletcher commissioned the San Diego Workforce Partnership to develop.  

“County government is taking action to help improve the behavioral health workforce in our region,” said Chair Fletcher. “We want to be part of the solution when it comes to supporting the behavioral health industry, getting workers trained and making sure they are properly compensated; today’s vote activates our County to take action on these issues.” 

Supervisor Lawson-Remer, said: "We know how to respond to our region's growing mental health and substance use crises, but we aren't training enough people and paying them enough to do this extremely challenging work. That starts to change with this vote," said Supervisor Lawson-Remer. "With so many San Diegans experiencing traumas and addiction, the board's actions to help address the severe shortage of behavioral health workers is a significant investment both in our workforce and in our community."

The approved policy seeks to have County government:

  • Leverage its legislative program to improve licensing, credentialing, supervision, training and higher education through legislation;
  • Develop a feasibility plan for competitive compensation plan for behavioral health positions in the County;
  • Create and implement a strategy to remove administrative red tape involving behavioral health services;
  • Develop a feasibility plan to help create regional training centers of excellence to train the next generation of behavioral health workers; 
  • Create a regional behavioral health workforce training fund and identify private sector, County, State and federal resources; and  
  • Create regional master training agreements with San Diego area community colleges, universities that help provide placement for future behavioral health professionals.      

Peter Callstrom, CEO of the Workforce Partnership, after the vote said: ”We are very grateful to have the support of Chair Fletcher and our County Board of Supervisors to implement the recommendations to help fill the urgent need of thousands of positions to fulfill our region’s behavioral health workforce. Thanks to the Board’s vision and leadership, we will work together to recruit, train, and ensure job quality for this critical workforce.”

The San Diego County area faces a significant behavioral health worker shortage. The report by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, states that by 2027 the San Diego region will need 18,500 more workers to meet the mental health and addiction treatment needs of the community. The report also offers detailed solutions to address the issue including the establishment of a $128 million workforce training fund and developing regional training centers. Today’s action by the Board Supervisors puts the County on record as a willing advocate to help advance the recommendations in the report.