The mental health professions: workforce supply and demand, issues, and challenges

Clin Psychol Rev. 2006 Sep;26(5):600-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2006.05.002. Epub 2006 Jul 3.


The U.S. mental health (MH) workforce is comprised of core disciplines: psychology, psychiatry, social work, psychiatric nursing, and marriage and family therapy. A broader group of practitioners also deserves recognition. Diverse professions provide significant services in a variety of settings, extending the de facto mental health workforce. A tally of key disciplines estimates there are 537,857 MH professionals, or 182 per 100,000 U.S. population. This article provides an overview of the need and demand for mental health services and summarizes the MH professions (e.g., training, educational credentials, workforce estimates). It also discusses a range of challenges confronting MH professionals and the need for greater understanding of the workforce and integration of services. Methodological factors that confound estimates of the magnitude of the MH workforce are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Personnel / economics
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / economics
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / economics
  • Mental Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Patient Care Team / economics
  • Patient Care Team / statistics & numerical data
  • Specialization / economics
  • Specialization / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Workforce