Build a culturally competent, high-quality behavioral healthcare workforce in our community.

Goals for 2017

  • Gather information and publish report on compensation and incentive plans (consider utilization of external group to gather this data)
  • Complete survey of alignment of experiences and organizational needs to identify overlaps and gaps
  • Determine organization of resources and information on workforce for MHC website

What's Happening?

"Enhancing and Improving Mental Health Workforce Shortages in Tarrant County Texas" by Jamel Slaughter, MSW and Richard Hoefer, Ph.D., University of Texas - Arlington - ReportPowerPoint Presentation

Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan - 2017-2021 Strategic Plan

Tarrant County Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists - Map

Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals - Policy Evaluation Brief

iCAP Research Project - "Determining Retention and Recruitment of Our Interns"

Purpose:  We propose to enhance internship opportunities as a starting point that will leverage the pipeline of potential long-term workers in mental health.  While compensation levels are beyond our scope, we will test modifications to current internship programs, including increased exposure to the mental health field.  We anticipate these changes will encourage more graduates to enter the field and remain there for many years.

Recent statistics from the US Department of Labor indicate that demand for social workers will increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024 (USDOL, 2015).  Despite this prediction of growth in demand, supply is not expected to keep pace, particularly in the mental health arena.  This highlights the need to promote a clear introduction to the field of mental health for students, and subsequently, upon employment, to work to retain those in the mental health workforce.  

The Hogg Foundation’s (2016) report on Texas’ mental health workforce argues that Texas has a profound shortage of mental health workers: “Texas has not adequately invested in developing a strong mental health workforce and the consequences are increasingly evident” (p. 4). The report reveals that 40 counties in Texas do not have a single clinical social worker and many other counties have shortages in the ability to provide adequate treatment. “This situation is due, in part, to “insufficient retention and recruitment practices” (p. 5).  Further, the Hogg Foundation identifies a lack of internship opportunities as a contributing cause of the mental health workforce shortage in Texas (p. 5).

The Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County (MHC) has been interested in focusing on this sometimes forgotten aspect of the mental health workforce for several years.  MHC established the Workforce Committee (WC) to better understand the workforce needs of organizations and individuals in the mental health arena in Tarrant County. The WC is made up of volunteers loaned by Mental Health Connection member agencies to accomplish the following goal: Identify, recruit and support a high-quality workforce that views human service work as desirable, motivating and satisfying.”  The WC has no assigned staff members, budget, or other way to collect and analyze the scattered but vital information needed to answer basic questions about the mental health work force in Tarrant County.

Pending additional resources, members of the WC have informally created a list of aggravating conditions affecting the state of the local mental health workforce.  These are not grounded in rigorous empirical data but are consistent with Hogg Foundation conclusions for Texas as a whole. Based upon preliminary discussions among the MHC providers, four factors are thought to be key for affecting the ability of organizations in Tarrant County to fully serve clients needing assistance:

1.         Workforce shortage (child psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, master level social workers, etc.)

2.         Internship opportunities

3.         Keeping new hires working in the mental health field because they didn’t realize the workload prior to finishing their degree and starting the job. 

4.         Compensation

   These factors are posited to be overlapping and mutually reinforcing.  There are both pipeline and retention issues.  The pipeline issue is the current shortage of workers in many mental health sub-fields.  This may be impacted by having better and more numerous internship opportunities which fill the pipeline.  Once trained, however, low compensation and difficult work combine to decrease retention of workers in the mental health field.

Meeting Date, Time, Location

Fourth Wednesday of the month, 3:00 pm, Lena Pope Amon Carter Center, 3200 Sanguinet St, Fort Worth, TX 76107


Michelle Cowden ACH Child and Family Services (817) 866-7138

Ottis Goodwin Fort Worth ISD (817) 814-2870

Committee Members

Joan Barcellona Parent Representative

Dr. Thomas Burdenski Tarleton State University

Jan Finch University of Texas - Arlington

Rick Hoefer University of Texas - Arlington

Barbara Lundgren ACH Child and Family Services

Sam McCage Cook Children's

Jennifer Martin Texas Christian University

Julie Merriman Tarleton State University

Betty Nuru ACH Child and Family Services

Francine Pratt Tarleton State University

Dr. Edward Randle Tarleton State University

Pam Rinn Campfire First

Lisa Rowett JPS Health Network

Dicey Smith UHS

Adam Stevens MHMR of Tarrant County

Deborah Sweat JPS Health Network

Byron Talley MHMR of Tarrant County

Kristen Terry University of Texas - Arlington

Heidi Tournoux-Hanshaw The Art Station

Mark Ware MHMR of Tarrant County

Shnease Webb Lena Pope

Todd Weill Janssen

Espi West MHMR of Tarrant County

Joshua Wheeler MHMR of Tarrant County

Tiffany Wigington Tarleton State University

Contact Us

3200 Sanguinet Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Patsy Thomas, President

For more information call: 817.927.5200 or email: