By 2030, there will be 9 million adults over age 65 in California — up from 6 million now — according to an estimate by the state’s department of finance. But a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research finds that California’s public mental health workforce is poorly prepared to address their mental health needs and provide treatment for substance abuse.
The report’s publication coincides with a meeting in San Diego of the California Behavioral Planning Council, which will discuss the workforce problem and a five-year workforce education and training plan. But Dr. Janet Frank, a faculty associate at the center and the study’s lead author, said the council’s current proposed plan does not specifically mention workforce needs for older adults.
“Mental health professionals with geriatric training are retiring, and there is a limited number of doctors, psychiatrists and nurses with adequate geriatric training to take their place,” Dr. Frank said. “The state can be proactive and plan ahead to make sure behavioral health workers are trained to serve the increasing number of older adults.”
According to the study, existing research paints a stark picture of the need for behavioral health care for adults in their golden years throughout the U.S., which is mirrored in California: