Mental Health Professionals: Why They’re in Demand and How to Hire Them

Behavioral healthcare organizations, alongside the rest of the healthcare industry, are struggling to find and keep skilled staff members. The rising healthcare staff shortage and skyrocketing turnover rates are affecting employers, their existing staff, and their clients. By 2025, it’s estimated the industry will see a 250,000 worker shortage in the behavioral health field.

To successfully serve your community and keep your current team strong, companies seeking health care organizations may need to think outside of the box regarding retaining and hiring mental health professionals. This begins with understanding why mental health pros are so hard to come by in the first place.

Growing Mental Health Crisis

To state the obvious, 33% of psychologists last fall said they have seen more patients since the start of the pandemic. Of those who treat anxiety disorders, nearly 75% reported an increase in demand for treatment, according to the American Psychological Association.

To shine a light on how massive this crisis really is, consider the following:

The problem with those numbers? There aren’t enough mental health professionals to fill that demand.

Biggest Obstacles of the Industry

It’s not uncommon to hear Mental Health Professionals say that they entered the industry to help others. But in a job so grueling, the impact comes slow and the burnout hits quick. Here are some of the common obstacles for mental health professionals:

  • Heavy caseloads. Especially as the number of resignations increase, the shortage of professionals in the industry creates more pressure for those remaining.
  • Long and irregular hours. Telehealth introduced flexibility to patients seeking mental treatment but ushered in an end to set office hours for the therapists.
  • The potential threat to personal safety. Almost 1 in 5 psychologists reported having been physically attacked by at least one client and over 80% of surveyed psychologists reported having been afraid that a client would attack them.
  • Political/ Socioeconomic hurdles. Those with mental health disorders are more likely to suffer from lower levels of educational attainment, increased contact with the criminal justice system, reduced employment levels (with lower salaries when employed) and personal relationship difficulties. These factors in turn can worsen mental health and perpetuate a vicious cycle for professionals to combat.
  • Proneness to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a combination of burnout and secondary traumatic stress. It includes feelings of exhaustion, negative or cynical attitudes toward work, and a sense of not being effective in your work.
  • High educational requirements. Most licensed mental health professionals have both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, which equates to 6-8 years of higher education. This is combined with any additional training or education in staying relevant amidst industry changes and advances.

What do Mental Health Pros Need?

The shortage of mental health professionals is vast, but the demand has never been higher. As job seekers across every industry prove that compensation isn’t the only benefit they seek, how do you retain and hire the top mental health professionals during such a delicate time? Experts suggest additional steps to attract desirable candidates, such as:

  • Offering scholarships with loan forgiveness. The higher education requirements are an obstacle, but so too is the cost. Ease the burden of those payments wherever possible.
  • Mental health benefits. The stigma of mental health professionals being immune to their own mental health battles is dangerous and short-sighted. Ensure your team has the resources needed to thrive.
  • Continued education and resource development. The industry is quickly growing, learning, and evolving. To be effective, industry professionals need the opportunity (the means and the time allowances) to keep up.
  • Increasing access to video-based services and other resources. Providing your team with the latest advantages in technology will help make their job easier and reduce their stress levels. Top talent candidates will seek these perks when searching for new opportunities.

In what can only be described as a pandemic in its own right, the shortage of mental health professionals during a growing mental health crisis has left the industry reeling. But, that doesn’t mean your industry is doomed to deal with a shortage of professionals.

PREDICTIVEHR has experienced recruiters ready to help you achieve your goals in hiring mental health professionals and other “hard to hire” roles. Schedule a call today to see how.