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April 13 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) invites public comments by May 13, 2021 on its request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval to administer two surveys being developed as part of the Mental and Substance Use Disorder Practitioner Data grant: (1) A one-time survey to employers of behavioral health providers and, (2) a one-time survey of licensed clinical behavioral health providers. The information gathered by these surveys will be used to gain critical new insights into, and to document, challenges in recruiting and retaining behavioral health staffing and to assess the strength of available data on the clinical behavioral health workforce actively providing care for mental health and substance use disorders.
 
Employer Survey: The survey includes questions to assess the following measures: Facility type (e.g., outpatient facility, inpatient, residential); type of behavioral health staff employed (e.g., addiction medicine specialists, psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, marriage and family therapists); services offered (e.g., assertive community treatment, partial hospitalization); roles and training needs of peer support specialists, case managers, care managers, and pharmacists (e.g., certification, population served, paid status, reimbursement); professions with recruitment and retention challenges (e.g., select from list of professions); reasons behind the challenges (e.g., low wages, high case load) and work-arounds (e.g., use of locum tenens); average wait-time for appointments (e.g., new patient visits); staffing needed to address gaps in care (e.g., estimated FTEs needed by profession type); use of telehealth (e.g., percent of visits); patient mix (e.g., immigrants, LGBTQ communities, number of clients); and form of payment (e.g., percent commercial, Medicaid, self-pay).  
 
The survey will be administered online through Qualtrics. The target population will be the 2,800 member organizations of the National Council of Behavioral Health (NCBH). NCBH members are healthcare organizations and management entities that offer treatment and supports to more than ten million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addictions.

The primary objectives of the survey are to:
Better understand factors associated with challenges in both recruitment and retention at behavioral health provider organizations such as certified community behavioral health clinics, community health centers and other organizations that employ providers engaged in treating substance use disorder and mental illness.
Estimate the workforce needed to better address gaps in care for mental health and substance use disorder.
Obtain new insights on staffing models for treatment of serious mental illness, such as assertive community treatment.
Collect new data on use of peer support specialists, care coordinators, and pharmacists in behavioral health care.

Provider Survey: The survey will provide important data to inform understanding regarding how many licensed clinical behavioral health specialists (licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors) are seeing clients for behavioral health needs and the populations served. The survey includes questions to assess the following measures: demographics (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, sex); professional and practice setting (e.g., self-employed, outpatient mental health clinic, zip code, hours worked); level of education (e.g., Masters in Social Work, Doctorate in Social Work); types of services provided (e.g., assertive community treatment); number of and type clients served (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, veteran, immigrants); telehealth use (e.g., current or prior to COVID-19 outbreak); and career satisfaction and burnout (e.g., very satisfied, “I enjoy my work, I have no symptoms of burnout”).

The target population will be a random sample of 5,000 licensed clinical behavioral health providers (licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors) in states where email addresses are available with state licensure data.

The primary objectives of the survey are to:
Assess whether state licensure data is a reliable data source for building a comprehensive database on clinical behavioral health practitioners who are actively providing client services that require licensure.
These data will also help program planners and policy makers to better understand the available supply of clinical behavioral health providers, including those seeing Medicaid or uninsured clients, and variation in types of services provided by each profession.
 
The survey framework was developed by the George Washington University (GW) Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity as part of the Mental and Substance Use Disorder Practitioner Data grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey instruments were developed in partnership with NCBH and the University of Michigan’s Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center.  NCBH, who is providing the employer survey mailing list, has historically had strong response rates for their member surveys.  They have agreed to help promote the employer survey with their members to ensure their members are familiar with the survey and its value.

SAMHSA submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202104-0930-001 Click on IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/04/01/2021-06700/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-for-omb-review-comment-request (Note: While this notice was issued on April 1, OMB accepts comments until May 13 -- 30 days after it received the submission on April 13.)
 
Point of contact: Leah E. Masselink, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University (p) 202.994.7183 (c) 240.903.1672 lmasselink@gwu.edu
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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