Workforce Development

This section includes resources on Workforce Development that have been created by The CAFE TA Center. Links to available resources can be found below.

Concern about the state of the behavioral health workforce has highlighted problems with an impact on almost every aspect of prevention and treatment across all sectors of the behavioral health field. Workforce development reports difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, the absence of career ladders for employees, marginal wages and benefits, limited access to relevant and effective training, the erosion of supervision, a vacuum with respect to future leaders, and financing systems that place enormous burdens on the workforce to meet high levels of demand with inadequate resources. The Café TAC will offer technical assistance and feature information, resources, and tools to address workforce development relative to:

•             recruiting and retaining self-help providers that includes peer specialists;

•             identifying financing mechanisms for hiring peer employees and consumers with lived experience;

•             retraining clinical and related service staff on recovery-based and consumer-driven practices; and

•             peer support.


CAFE TAC Resources

Peer Supervision is an online training that offers information on supervising peer support workers for both non-peers and other peer professionals.How can peers manage other peers? What should non-peers keep in mind when managing peer specialists? This training provides answers to these questions, for both peers managing other peers, as well as non-peer professionals and clinicians tasked with supervising peer specialists. Through a series of modules, it provides foundational information on peer support and its growth out of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement, training for non-peers supervising peers support workers, information for peers supervising other peers, advice on group supervision, and a series of scenarios to help illustrate how various concepts work in practice. The online training is organized in such a way that you can skip to the sections that are most relevant to you.

Peers as Professionals: Workplace Success is a multi-part online training that provides information and guidance for people withe lived experience that serve in a range of roles within the behavioral health care system. It offers advice for peers in every role, including paid peer support specialists, peer volunteers, committee or council members and supervisors. The training is conveniently organized into modules, so viewers can select the portions that are most relevant to their role. It coves a wide range of topics, including ethics, being a valued employee, working effectively in a team, understanding and explaining your role, staying true to peer support values, effective advocacy and communicating with supervisors.

Focus 36: New Evidence Shows Supported Employment Works lists the components that a quality Supported Employment program should include, and  examines new evidence that shows that Supported Employment has lasting positive benefits. By abandoning the false assumption that people with behavioral health needs are permanently disabled and cannot work, and embracing recovery-based Supported Employment, the mental health system can save money, empower people, and deliver better outcomes.

Focus 34: Peers at the Center of New Approaches to Coordinated Care examines trends that are reshaping the relationship between primary healthcare and behavioral health. With healthcare reform, mental health parity, and a growing recognition of the value of the lived experience workforce, forces are aligning to reshape the system. This Focus looks at those forces, and the opportunities that are likely to arise out of them.

Focus 32: Managing Peer Support Employees Experiencing Mental Health Crisis provides tips for consumer organizations on how to support the mental wellness of the peer support workers they employ. In addition to the management issues any organization must confront in managing staff, consumer organizations have an additional duty to accommodate the behavioral health needs of their staff with lived experience. This Focus offers some suggestions on steps to take and issues to consider.

Focus30: The Mental Health Workforce Crisis  reviews some of the prevalent findings about issues within the nation’s mental health workforce. In recent years, the demand for behavioral health services has grown, and the system has strained to meet it. With expanded access to care through the Affordable Care Act and new Mental Health Parity rules, demand will only increase in coming years. This Focus lays out some of the challenges ahead.

Workforce Development: Advocating for Peer Support Specialist Positions is a new online training that provides individuals with mental health needs and their organizations with information on the positive impacts that peers specialists have, as well as strategies that individuals and organizations can use to advocate for the inclusion of peer support specialists in the mental health system of care. To view this exciting new training, click here!

Focus 22: Disclosure in the Workplace examines issues including how to go about revealing your mental health needs in a professional environment, deciding what to reveal, to whom, how, and when, and asking for accommodations. It offers some things to consider when deciding how and what to reveal about a mental illness in a professional environment, discusses the legal protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and examines the pros and cons of full disclosure.

For individuals with mental health needs, having a job can be especially meaningful. Unfortunately, the degree of stigma surrounding mental health in society can make succeeding in the work place difficult. Workforce Development: Addressing Stigma in the Workforce is a white paper that examines how stigma works, how individuals can deal with disclosure, and measures employers can take to create a stigma-free environment.

The August 2012 Focus newsletter examines the roles that consumer organizations can play in shaping the behavioral health workforce. Focus 19: Workforce Development: Consumer Organization Opportunities.

Read about the state of the behavioral health workforce in Focus Issue 10: The State of the Behavioral Health Workforce.

Learn about the challenges of workplace stigma in Focus Issue 4: Fighting Workplace Stigma.

View a Focus newsletter that introduces the topic of Workforce Development, Focus 2: Workforce Development

Watch our online training, Consumers with Lived Experience: Critical Partners in the Mental Health System of Care.

Check out our first resource on Workforce Development, The Role of Consumers with Lived Experience in Mental Health Workforce Development.


Outside Resources

Peer Specialist Training & Certification Programs National Overview 2016 – – The Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at the University of Texas School of Social Work is the preeminent source of information on how peer support specialists are trained and certified in states across the nation. In this new report, they catalog how peer specialist programs work in each state. It also includes a set of “recommendations for states to consider in an attempt to enhance and further advance training and certification programming for peer specialist programs.”

Ready, Willing, and Able to Work: Employment for People In Recovery – – Examines challenges people in recovery from mental or substance use disorders face with regard to employment. Considers recovery entrepreneurship programs, employers who hire people in recovery, and community organizations that provide workforce development.

SAMHSA’s Consumer-Operated Services Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) Kit – This free tool kit provides tools for developing mental health services that are owned and operated by people who have personal experience living with a psychiatric disorder, and offers guidance grounded in evidence-based practices. CD-ROM/DVD includes 10 booklets.

Supported Employment for People with Severe Mental Illness – – A guideline developed for the Behavioral Health Recovery Management Project regarding supported employment models and methods.

Employment Scenarios: What Would You Do? – – This Web page outlines three examples of mental health issues in the workplace, and provides appropriate responses about how to address them. It also provides links to appropriate resources.

Accommodating Mental Illness – – This comprehensive 50 page report covers Healthcare, Recordkeeping, Hiring, Retention, and other compliance issues.

Navigating Tunnels and Cliffs: Empowering Families and Caregivers to Assist Youth with Mental Health Needs in Preparing for Work – – For many families and caregivers of youth with mental health needs, career preparation and exploration are not top priorities. This short cut provides families, caregivers, and youth with mental health needs the information needed to prepare for a career including promising practices from the field and an action plan for success.

Businesses Materials for a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace: Workplaces That Thrive: A Resource for Creating Mental Health-Friendly Work Environments – This toolkit developed by SAMHSA contains information and tools for human resource personnel and managers to use in developing a mental health friendly workplace.

Businesses Materials for a Mental Health Friendly Workplace: Executives Booklet – – This booklet developed by SAMHSA invites business leaders to take a serious look at the role of their employees’ mental health and how it relates to both their well-being and the bottom line.

Employment Issues for People with Mental Illness – – This document talks about the stigmas of Mental Health and principles to helping people with mental health issues.

Some Notes about Mental Health and the Hiring Process – Article regarding the corporate hiring of people with mental illness. Including best practices for hiring.

Mental Health in the Workplace – This booklet considers the effects of stress at work and those factors that can contribute to stress. It also addresses the ways in which employers can help to create a psychologically healthy work environment. It also looks at the recruitment and retention of those experiencing mental health problems and provides a list of useful contacts.

How Family Members Can Be Involved in Supported Employment Activities and How Providers Can Support Family Member Involvement in Supported Employment Activities – – This flyer provides ways for providers and family members to support people who are engaging in Supported Employment activities.

The Annapolis Coalition on Behavioral Health Workforce – – Non-profit organization dedicated to improving the recruitment, retention, training and performance of the prevention and treatment workforce in the mental health and addictions sectors of the behavioral health field; seeks to strengthen the workforce role of persons in recovery and family members in caring for themselves and each other, as well as improving the capacity of all health and human service personnel to respond to the behavioral health needs of the individuals they serve.

Assessment Jump Start – Discusses what is needed to make the transition successfully from school to adult life and the world of work, developing the ability to make informed choices, and sound information including appropriate assessments that focus on the talents, knowledge, skills, interests, values, and aptitudes of each individual.

Benefits Planning – Document providing examples of benefits and work incentives available to youth with disabilities.

Blending and Braiding Funds and Resources: The Intermediary As Facilitator – Brief, the second in a series, focuses on how intermediary organizations can facilitate the blending and braiding of funds and resources to encourage cross-systems collaboration and, in turn, to improve the educational and employment outcomes for all youth, including those with disabilities, identifies strategies that states can use to support local communities in the “blending” and “braiding” of resources, and outlines how cross-systems collaboration and alternative funding strategies can be facilitated by intermediary organizations at both the state and local levels.

Charting the Course: Supporting the Career Development of Youth with Learning Disabilities – Intended to help practitioners, administrators, and policymakers in secondary and postsecondary education programs, transition programs, One-Stop Career Centers, youth employment programs, and community rehabilitation programs to improve services and outcomes for youth, ages 14 to 25, with diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities, includes numerous quick reference charts, tables, and tools for counselors, career advisors, and other professionals who work directly with youth with in-depth information provided on a variety of topics, including the types and impact of learning disabilities, needed supports, and research-based interventions.

Consumers in the Mental Health Workforce: A Handbook for Providers – – Handbook for providers with tips and strategies for hiring/retaining consumer employees.

Disability Inquiries In The Workforce Development System – Publication for those working in One-Stop centers as well as youth and adult service providers who interact with individuals with disabilities; designed to help clarify what you can and cannot ask about someone’s disability.

Disclosing Your Disability to an Employer – – Discusses whether and how much to tell employers about psychiatric disability to protect legal rights to any accommodations needed to get or keep a job.

Employment Connections – Factsheet on employment options and opportunities for young adults with disabilities

Employment Issues for People with Mental Illness – Talks about the stigmas of Mental Health and principles to helping people with mental health issues.

Employment Scenarios: What Would You Do? – – Web page outlining three examples of mental health issues in the workplace with appropriate responses about how to address them; links to appropriate resources.

The Center for Reintigration – – a non-profit organization committed to helping people with mental illnesses pursue a meaningful life through reintegration– the process by which a person with a mental illness finds meaningful work and education, restores his or her relationships, and moves toward independent living.

Helping Youth with Mental Health Needs Avoid Transition Cliffs: Lessons from Pioneering Transition Programs – InfoBrief discussing challenges faced by youth and young adults with mental health needs during their transition to adulthood and describes strategies used by youth service professionals to avoid age-related transition cliffs and prevent service interruptions during this critical stage of development.

How does mental illness interfere with work performance? – – Some of the ways mental illness can interfere with a person’s work performance.

How Family Members Can Be Involved in Supported Employment Activities and How Providers Can Support Family Member Involvement in Supported Employment Activities – Flyer providing ways for providers and family members to support people who are engaging in Supported Employment activities.

How-to Tips for Employers – – Tips for employers on developing accommodations and guidelines for providing feedback.

Manage Peer Support – Information from Peers for Progress that can help organizations to recruit, supervise, and retain peer support workers.

Mental Health Consumer Providers: A Guide for Clinical Staff – Booklet providing mental health clinic staff with a brief guide to implementing and sustaining a consumer provider program.

Mental Illness at Work: An Assessment of Co-Worker Reactions – – News Article that has reactions of Co-workers of people with mental illness and how they view certain situations. Includes research on stigmas, self-disclosure, workplace accommodations, and lots more.

Notes about Mental Health and the Hiring Process – Article regarding the corporate hiring of people with mental illness, including best practices for hiring.

People with Disabilities Foundation (PWDF) – Provides education and advocacy for people with psychiatric, developmental, or both psychiatric and physical disabilities so that they can achieve equal opportunities in all aspects of life; services include education and public awareness seminars and trainings; educational videos addressing employment accommodations, housing and workforce sensitivity; and advocacy related to ADA, health care and other services.

Steps to Employment Workbook – Workbook is designed to assist people who have experienced mental health problems to become job-ready; includes everything from preparing for a job to keeping a job.

Supported Employment Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) KIT – Provides practice principles about supported employment and approachs to vocational rehabilitation.

Supported Employment: A Guide for Consumers, Families & Supporters Brochure – Brief definition of supported employment, how supported employment works, and frequently asked questions.

Tasks Unlimited – Outlines opportunities for rehabilitation through supported employment, community housing and mental health services for adults with serious and persistent mental illness.

Vision’s: BC’s Mental Health and Addiction Journal – PDF document exploring many areas and issues with mental health in the workplace.

What Accommodations Work on the Job? – – Examples of types of accommodations that would apply to someone with a psychiatric disability.

What To Do When You Think an Employee Might Need Mental Health Help – Resource to help supervisors assist employees in getting any needed services so they can be healthy and return to a productive work life and to ensure the most positive and constructive outcomes.

Work as a Priority: A Resource for Employing People Who Have Serious Mental Illnesses and Who Are Homeless – Reviews literature on increasing employment among people who are homeless and have serious mental illness, summarizes promising employment programs, and discusses policies and laws that address the provision of employment services for this population.

Working Well Together – Collaborative to ensure public mental health agencies are prepared to recruit, hire, train, support and retain multicultural clients, family members and parents/caregivers as employees.

Workplaces Quit Quietly Ignoring Mental Illness – Talks about how more workplaces are recognizing mental illness in the workplace.