March 21, 2024

Hire and Retain the Right Behavioral Health Professionals

Hire and Retain the Right Behavioral Health Professionals

Massive staffing shortages are affecting healthcare organizations across the country, and behavioral health is no exception.

Meanwhile, the mental health crisis continues to worsen.

What are behavioral health organizations expected to do during unprecedented labor shortages and increasing mental health needs?

We want to help boost your recruitment efforts. Read on as we discuss our tips for hiring — and retaining — behavioral health clinicians amidst the challenges facing the industry today.

Table of Contents

What Is the Greatest Need When Hiring for a Behavioral Health Center?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is much higher than the national average for other occupations. 

From 2021 to 2031, the projected percent change in employment for these specialties is 22%, which is 17% higher than the average growth rate for all occupations in the U.S.

At least 43,600 job openings for mental health counselors and clinicians are expected each year across the country, some of which will replace workers who transfer out of the occupation.

Why Is There a Greater Need for Clinicians Than for Other Staff Members?  

One of the glaring reasons behind the need for behavioral health clinicians is the rise in mental health needs in the U.S. More than half of adults suffering from mental illness in the U.S. do not receive treatment.

The causes for this increase could be attributed to social media use and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, but what remains true is that behavioral health professionals are needed more than ever.

However, clinicians are only able to carry a certain caseload. This means a practice can only accept the number of patients that can reasonably be treated by the clinicians they have on staff — creating a need for more recruitment.

4 Reasons Why Finding and Hiring Clinicians for Behavioral Health Is Difficult

#1: Many Behavioral Health Clinicians Prefer Having a Private Practice 

Private practice therapy usually involves one therapist providing private mental health services to patients in need of treatment. For some clinicians, the benefits of running a private practice may outweigh those of a group practice. For example:

  • Better pay — As the owner of a practice, the clinician is the only shareholder. Once deductions are made for expenses, 100% of the profit goes to the clinician. They’re also free to set their own rates, which can lead to significantly more income than may be made in a group practice
  • Autonomy — Licensed clinicians who operate a solo practice are granted complete autonomy to make any decisions that determine the outcome of the business. From setting hours to allocating costs, all decisions rest entirely on the operating clinician.
  • Minimal conflict — Many clinicians prefer private practice because it reduces the potential for conflict that could arise in a group practice and allows them to perform more efficiently.

#2: There Are Different Licensing and State Requirements 

Each state has specific licensure requirements that must be met to legally practice as a behavioral health clinician. So if Montana, for example, has 400 openings for mental health counselor jobs, but can’t meet that requirement within their state, they may need to recruit outside of Montana.

However, this may not be easy given each state has varying requirements for:

  • Credential titles
  • Educational requirements
  • Experiential requirements; and
  • Exam requirements

#3: There Are Many Different Specialties

Many behavioral health facilities specialize in treating a particular mental illness or behavioral disorder, for example:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Disruptive and dissocial disorders
  • Substance abuse and addiction

Additionally, clinics may narrow down their services even more by focusing on helping youths or veterans, for example. 

Finding a clinician with the education, experience, and specialty required for the position can substantially decrease the number of applicants for any given position.

#4: Different Clinicians Are Trained in Different Modalities of Treatment 

In some cases, behavioral health facilities are looking for clinicians trained in specific modalities, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Behavior modification therapy
  • Patient-centered therapy
  • Humanistic/experiential therapy
  • Accelerated resolution therapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Biofeedback therapy

Some focus on the type of analysis done, others focus on the relationship between clinician and client, while some are focused on the tools used during therapy.

Finding a clinician that specializes in the preferred modality of the facility may prove challenging.

4 Tips When Hiring for a Behavioral Health Center Clinician

#1: Use Contracted Clinicians To Round Out Staffing Needs

Using a specialist staffing agency may be the best source for finding contracted clinicians to run specialized programs, such as therapy groups or addiction counseling.

The advantage of using a staffing agency is that they do most of the legwork in advance. Their recruiters will check …

  • Qualifications
  • Licenses
  • Certifications
  • Referrals
  • And more

… to help speed the hiring process and ensure you have the right person for the opening. Additionally, staffing agencies build relationships and connections with clinicians that last for years, which allows them to use a targeted approach when sourcing the type of professional expertise you need.

#2: Partner With Behavioral Health Recruiters and Marketers 

Smaller behavioral health facilities may not have the budget to hire in-house recruiters who also have marketing experience. However, the way organizations advertise jobs is changing – Job postings aren’t focusing so much on the details of the position, rather they are promoting an experience.

Professional behavioral health recruiters and marketers can be outsourced and leveraged to promote openings in your organization in creative ways to attract the talent you’re looking for.

#3: Consider How You Promote the Position 

For behavioral health organizations with internal recruiters, changing the way you promote the position can be a game changer. 

Attracting quality candidates requires a well-communicated ad that informs the applicant what the organization has to offer. Think of job ads as stories to tell about your organization. Get creative with your postings and you’ll stand out above the competition. 

For example:

  • Describe a “day in the life” of a clinician at your organization. Video, images, and testimonials from other clinicians highlight what it’s really like to work there.
  • Emphasize the unique perks offered at your organization and why it would be difficult to find them elsewhere.
  • Feature case studies that describe the impact of the role on patients that current clinicians have.  

Your promotion strategy will depend on the type of position offered. Reaching your targeted market may be easier if you place your ads on niche websites, social media platforms, new graduate job boards, or by reaching out to your professional network.

#4: Streamline Onboarding and Training 

The last thing a newly-hired clinician wants to deal with is a sluggish onboarding process. Due to the high demand for mental health professionals, behavioral health recruiters must have a strategy in place to ensure a successful start.

Some organizations are embracing a paperless onboarding process because it allows you to begin onboarding before the new hire starts their role. This may involve virtual walkthroughs, digital paperwork, e-signatures, and more.

Others prefer a step-by-step checklist process that holds both parties accountable for completing onboarding action items in the order of necessity and importance, for example:

Creating an accountability checklist keeps everyone on track with moving the onboarding process forward as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Whatever process you choose, it should be efficient and give your new clinician the confidence to hit the ground running.

Retention Strategies for Behavioral Health Centers

Allow Your Clinicians To Receive Continuing Education Credits 

Many states and licensing boards require clinicians to obtain CE credits or CEUs to remain licensed. Building in time and support for clinicians to achieve these credits not only alleviates pressure from the clinician to do it on their own time but also allows clinicians to stay current on trends in mental health treatment.

When you support your clinicians through continuing education, you’re giving your clients the best possible care and showing your clinician that their career and advancement is important to you.

Continuing education may also help fill gaps and incorporate more specialties in your practice.

Allow Your Clinicians To See Private Practice Clients Outside of Facility Hours 

Many clinicians choose private practice over group practices because they can control their caseload, make more money, and have autonomy over their practice. 

By allowing your clinicians to accept private practice clients outside of regular business hours, you’re creating an opportunity to earn extra income while servicing additional clients. 

You may also discourage clinicians from choosing private practice over group practice because they get to experience the best of both worlds when allowed to see clients separate from their group practice caseload.

However, this can be a slippery slope, and you may have to put a cap on private clients to ensure your clinicians don’t experience burnout.

Ritten: Simplified EMR Software for Behavioral Health Centers 

Ritten was designed specifically for behavioral health facilities to create an efficient admin process for clinicians. When hiring for a behavioral health center, recruiters can promote an EMR system that eliminates tedious paperwork and documentation processes and promotes data-driven patient care.

For new clinicians or clinicians who are coming from an antiquated or clunky EMR, Ritten’s easy-to-use software can be a huge selling point for recruiters.

Investing in the right EMR system is an investment in your clinicians and your clients. When potential new clinicians know that the provided EMR system will streamline otherwise cumbersome processes, they may be more inclined to accept your job offer above another.

With Ritten, clinicians can:

  • Understand and monitor patient outcomes in real time
  • Manage medications and e-prescriptions with ease
  • Manage complex schedules with rapid charting
  • Maintain compliance with automatic alerts for missing or incomplete documentation
  • Drive referrals by managing critical relationships
  • And more

For more information, or to schedule your free demo, contact Ritten today and start improving your recruitment process.

Join our email list!

Subscribe to receive more information on Ritten's software and capabilities.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get started with Ritten today!

Customized setup

Easily switch from old provider

Simple pricing