Strategies to Create Behavioral Health Jobs for Youth

High school students enjoy behavioral health career conferences, guest speakers, and clinic/program field trips. Providing such experiences for youth generates much interest and enthusiasm, but such brief exposure doesn’t necessarily translate to more young people choosing careers in social work, psychiatry, nursing, or psychology. In order to increase the interest and exposure to behavioral health care careers, The Greater Bay Area Mental Health and Education Workforce Collaborative, has organized a working group to discover ways to build relevant and sustainable behavioral health workforce pathways for youth.

Meeting – February 17, 2016

Partnerships for Creating High School Behavioral Health Career Pipelines

Gustavo, Loera, Ed.D., researcher, consultant and health career pathways developer, joined Oakland Unified School District Leadership, along with about a dozen community base organizations and county partners on February 17th to thoughtfully consider how to elevate students to the next level of engagement in health care careers. The morning was spent reviewing literature on the effectiveness of work-based learning, pipeline programs, and the future workforce needs of the behavioral health care community. Following this comprehensive review, the participants brainstormed employment barriers keeping high school youth out of behavioral health internships and jobs, as well as thoughtful solutions to such restrictions.

Potential barriers included concerns around youth safety and confidentiality, and solutions addressed such ideas as widening the concept of relevant, and motivating behavioral health jobs that moved beyond typical clinic jobs. Participants also considered innovative ideas such a teacher internship that would involve high school teachers “embedding” in a behavioral health site for a brief experience, which would allow them to bring learning back to the high schools for a more informed and in-depth behavioral health teaching experience.

The day finished with the understanding this was the beginning of a collaborative process designed to build a processes for employing youth that can be shared among Bay Area schools. The next steps include a follow up meeting using the summarized and prioritized data from 2/17 to inform and focus future discussion of next steps.