Welcome to the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center's newsletter, where you can keep up to date with our research, presentations, publications, and events.
News & Updates
In this Issue:

  • Staff Update
  • Project Updates
  • Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Social Workers' Use of Telebehavioral Health during COVID-19
  • Upcoming Projects
Staff Update - Welcome Victoria!
Victoria Schoebel, our new Statistician, has joined the Center full-time after working as a research assistant since January of 2019.

Victoria recently received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her research interests include psychiatric epidemiology and behavioral health disparities among sexual and gender diverse groups. By using the analytical knowledge she gained in the classroom, she aims to strengthen research studies to address health inequities in underserved communities. 
Project Updates
Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: A Survey of Addiction Medicine Physicians on Telemedicine and Medication-Assisted Treatment
Clinically, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) reduce the risk of OUD death by up to 50%. Yet access to MAT remains severely inadequate, notably in rural areas: 85% of counties lacked an opioid treatment program that could provide methadone in 2016, and 60% lacked any buprenorphine-waivered provider.

Geospatial analysis revealed Substance Use Disorder treatment (SUDTx) facilities were more likely to be established in densely populated locations. Respondents also reported greater interest in providing MAT via telemedicine (n=202, 70.3%) than providing psychotherapy via telemedicine (n=174, 61.1%).
Social Work Answers the (VIDEO) Call: Tele-Behavioral Health Use During COVID-19
This study measured the extent to which social workers were able to transition to tele-behavioral health during COVID-19 and the barriers and facilitators they experienced during this rapid change to tele-behavioral health service delivery.

Prior to COVID-19 only 28% of the sample reported using tele-behavioral health to provide services, while 34% reported their organization used tele-behavioral health. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 92% of respondents reported using tele-behavioral health and 95% indicated the organization they work for now has tele-capabilities. Of those who used tele-behavioral health prior to COVID-19, respondents indicated that they increased the average use of this method from 21% to almost 88% of their client caseload.
2020-2021 Projects
The team has been working diligently to finalize some of our upcoming projects for Year 6, 2020-2021. Work on many of these projects has already started, and there is a focus on better understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of behavioral health. See below for a brief description of these projects and visit our site for more information.
Assessing Behavioral Health Workforce Surge Needs due to COVID-19
Estimating Supply of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Providers
Exposures to traumatic events may be associated with poor behavioral health outcomes. Findings from a previous COVID-19 literature review indicate that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress, and anxiety are more likely to be present for months and years in individuals exposed to public health crises. Emerging evidence of increased need for mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services during the COVID-19 pandemic is consistent with these observations.
Studies on the behavioral health workforce of the United States repeatedly show low proportions of providers specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents, as well as geographic maldistribution of said workforce. This lack of access to care may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which a transition to distance learning could disrupt students’ access to behavioral health providers stationed at schools.

Peers in the Behavioral Health Workforce: Costs and Contributions
This study will compare revenue models, billing, and direct costs for behavioral health services in a sample of facilities with peers to facilities without peers to determine where incorporation of peer services is cost-positive for these facilities. To obtain cost and outcome data, the research team will conduct qualitative interviews across 4-5 states with facility staff and peer providers. This project is a continuation of a two-year study started in 2019 in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Year 2 efforts will build on findings from a systematic review of literature on the costs and contributions of peer providers in the behavioral health workforce completed during year 1 of the project.

Project is a continuation of a project first started in 2019 in partnership with University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
Behavioral Health Payment Models Post-COVID-19 Pandemic
The principle aim of this study is to determine how characteristics of payment models result in variations in supply of behavioral health providers over the course of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in the US. This is an observational study of payment model design features in relevant legislation, regulations and executive orders affecting Medicaid and commercial plans. It will analyze variation in fees and payment for behavioral health services delivered by the current and developing behavioral health workforce under 2020 federal and state legislation, agency regulations, and CMS and Department of Labor policy and guidance concurrent with and following the national state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center | University of Michigan
Phone: (734) 763-3118 | E-mail: bhworkforce@umich.edu