OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente announced today it increased the number of its mental health therapists by nearly half in California from January 2011 to June 2015. The 45 percent increase, the equivalent of 497 additional mental health therapists, is part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to be the leader in providing high-quality mental health care and eliminating the stigma associated with seeking care. The nation’s largest integrated health plan and health care provider seeks to hire 354 more mental health professionals by the end of the year.
Kaiser Permanente’s significant hiring of mental health therapists comes during an overall shortage of these professionals in the U.S. According to an April 2015 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), patients nationwide face difficulties in finding a mental health treatment provider because of the increasing demand for, and shortage of, mental health professionals available. It also comes at a time when many health professionals, including those at Kaiser Permanente, are working to destigmatize the seeking of treatment for mental illness, and the related misperceptions that may be keeping people from pursuing careers in the mental health care field.
“With the number of Americans seeking mental health care steadily rising, our nation is at risk of not having enough therapists to meet patients’ needs,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Kaiser Permanente. “Kaiser Permanente is taking steps to ensure our members have access to the mental health care they need. As one of the largest mental health care providers in California, we are working to attract the best mental health care professionals who want to make a difference by working together with other clinicians in an integrated health care environment, to address our patients’ total health needs.”
Specifically, Kaiser Permanente has hired 411 more therapists since 2011, and added the equivalent of an additional 86 therapist positions by partnering with community-based therapists. Kaiser Permanente is also seeking to hire an additional 354 mental health professionals throughout California by the end of 2015, especially those with backgrounds that reflect the diversity of the communities the organization serves. Currently posted positions include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, addiction medicine counselors, behavioral health case managers and other mental health professionals to provide comprehensive mental health treatment for its members. Qualified candidates are encouraged to apply at kpcareers.org.
To improve care delivery further, Kaiser Permanente will invest more than $115 million to refresh and remodel at least 76 of its existing mental health facilities in California. Millions of dollars more will be invested in new mental health facilities as a result of the organization’s increasing membership.
Unlike at other health care systems, Kaiser Permanente’s primary care and mental health providers work together to address a patient’s health care needs and maximize his or her wellness, and members can receive mental health care everywhere the organization operates. Integration is enhanced by Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the industry-leading electronic health information system. In the case of mental health, the system connects care providers to evidence-based protocols and patient records, enhancing coordination of care while maintaining member privacy. In addition, Kaiser Permanente’s ratings for behavioral and mental health care in California are among the highest in the state, according to the California Office of the Patient Advocate’s 2014-15 report card.
“Our integrated system, supported by technology, makes it easier for mental health providers to coordinate care with others and is part of what makes Kaiser Permanente a great place to work,” said Scott Young, MD, executive director and senior medical director of Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute. “We are always seeking to improve, as an organization and as a leader in delivering mental health care, We are pleased with the hiring we have been able to do in a competitive market, but we believe strongly that more can and must be done — by Kaiser Permanente and the health care community overall — to solve the challenges facing mental health care in America. So, we are working hard to continue improving quality and access to care and removing the associated stigma for patients seeking treatment.”
Salaries for Kaiser Permanente psychologists in California range from approximately $89,500 to $135,000, depending on experience and location. Salaries for the other mental health positions, not including psychiatrists, range from $52,700 to $118,000. For more information about mental health care careers at Kaiser Permanente, visit kpcareers.org.
Kaiser Permanente is consistently recognized nationally as a “Best Place to Work” and for its commitment to diversity. In 2015, Kaiser Permanente was ranked number two on DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.