NYAPRS Note: The following piece underscores the drastic need behavioral health and other human services nonprofits face in providing consistent care due to staff hiring and retention crises. It refers to a recent survey that showed unacceptably high staff turnover and vacancy rates. See the attached map for more details. Winning a 2.9% Cost of Living Adjustment is one of NYAPRS’ highest priorities, to be featured at our February 26th Annual Albany Legislative Day.
Behavioral Health Agencies in NY Struggle
By Courtney Potts Times Telegram February 4, 2019
Behavioral health agencies across New York are struggling with too many vacancies and too much turnover.
In the central portion of the state, agencies face a 12 percent vacancy rate and a 28 percent annual turnover rate, according to a survey conducted by a group of statewide behavioral health membership associations.
The survey looked at vacancy rates during the week from Oct. 15 through 21 of last year and turnover in 2017.
Many of the affected positions are for care or case managers that can have a detrimental impact on how well patients do, said Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York State, one of the associations who sent out the survey.
Mental health patients and care managers work together as a team to navigate the system and work toward positive outcomes, he said.
“And then two months later, that team member is going and you move onto the next person. Of course, that’s going to result in a lack of continuity of care,” Liebman said.
One woman, who spoke at an event in Albany, saw 12 care managers in 12 years, he said.
For advocates, much of the problem boils down to money. Workers are leaving to make more money at Burger King, he said.
MHANYS and other groups are calling on the state to include a 2.9 percent cost-of-living increase for human service workers in its budget, an increase that is not in the governor’s proposed budget.
“A lot of people gravitate to this field because they want to help people,” Liebman said. “They’re very mission driven. They want to do what’s right ... but they also have to make a living.”
Incentives like career ladders, tuition reimbursement and flexible hours also can help to recruit and retain staff, but by themselves, they’ve not enough, he said.
Statewide, the vacancy rate was 14 percent and the turnover rate was 34 percent; both were highest in New York City and on Long Island.
Survey respondents accounted for about 20 percent of the workforce statewide.
“That’s enough of a proportion to be able to make some well-educated hypotheses,” Liebman said.