A need-based model for determining staffing needs for the public sector outpatient mental health service system

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Abstract

This article proposes a need-based model for determining staffing needs for regional or national public sector outpatient mental health services. It constitutes a spreadsheet method involving a sequence of calculations relating demographic variables, workers' productivity, anticipated demand, and standards pertaining to annual visits per client distributed among the core mental health professions. The authors demonstrate the application of the model to national planning of adult outpatient mental health services using standards based on both expert consensus and existing staffing patterns while they note the need for more rigorously derived and empirically based standards. It is suggested that by using clearly stated assumptions and quantifiable variables, the model can facilitate constructive negotiations among various agencies and community organizations involved in policymaking and in budget allocations.

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