Providing behavioral workforce development technical assistance during COVID-19: adjustments and needs

Transl Behav Med. 2022 Jan 18;12(1):ibab097. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibab097.


COVID-19 social distancing policies have triggered a historic shift in the delivery of behavioral health prevention and treatment services. Among the first responders to this monumental workforce development challenge were the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-funded Technology Transfer Centers (TTCs), which are charged with building the behavioral health workforce's capacity to provide evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery services. TTCs documented unprecedented attendance at their events in the early months of the pandemic. This study applied content analysis to identify the most common COVID-related technical assistance (TA) topics and examine attendance by topic from March to July 2020. Across 393 events, TA topics explicitly related to COVID-19 encompassed eight emergent themes: (a) delivering services via telehealth, (b) providing support and services to behavioral health consumers, (c) promoting workforce self-care, (d) understanding new laws/policies, (e) delivering evidence-based practices, (f) advancing racial equity, (g) offering networking spaces, and (h) altering organizational management and communication infrastructure. The most heavily attended events focused on the TA themes "Advancing Racial Equity" (average = 352) and "Telehealth Service Delivery" (average = 271). There was a documented shift from more intensive TA to briefer, more targeted TA provision. The TTCs rapidly virtualized training and TA offerings to address workforce needs and serve as a model for providing remote workforce development support during the COVID-19 pandemic and future national crises.

Keywords: Behavioral health; COVID-19; Telehealth; Workforce.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*
  • Workforce