Atlanta, Ga. – In 2019, nearly 40,000 students in Georgia reported having attempted suicide on the Georgia Student Health Survey, conducted by the Georgia Department of Education.
“These data shows our children are in crisis,” said Dr. Erica Fener Sitkoff, Executive Director for Voices for Georgia’s Children. “One barrier our children face is access to timely, high-quality behavioral health. It is increasingly a matter of life and death in our state.”
As state leaders set budget priorities for the coming fiscal year, Voices for Georgia’s Children is highlighting this alarming increase. In 2017, we conducted a comprehensive Analysis of Georgia’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Workforce. The idea that we need to strengthen our behavioral health workforce in Georgia played a central role in several of the legislative study committees that met in 2019, and it is clear that the state’s behavioral workforce is on the front lines for helping ensure children thrive and protecting their long-term well-being.
PROVIDER AVAILABILITY IN GEORGIA
Of Georgia’s 159 counties:
64 do not have a pediatrician
76 do not have a licensed psychologist
52 do not have a licensed social worker
Approximately 94% of Georgia counties have a full or partial health professional shortage.
Voices is releasing a new foreword to our Behavioral Health Workforce Report that outlines the progress the state has made since our original release and opportunities that remain, including these needs:
- Leveraging the Georgia Apex Program to create a workforce pipeline with post-graduate training and supervision opportunities.
- Adding a Minimum Data Set Survey to behavioral health provider license renewals.
- Developing a Registered Behavior Technician program within the Technical College System of Georgia to help the state’s need for a larger autism workforce.