Behavioral Health Education Center Report Highlights Efforts to Grow Nebraska’s Mental Health Workforce
The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) (www.unmc.edu/bhecn) recently released its legislative report summarizing its efforts to improve access to behavioral health care across the state by developing a skilled and passionate workforce.
With 78 out of 93 counties in Nebraska experiencing a high need for behavioral health services and 32 counties lacking a behavioral health provider of any kind, BHECN continues to develop solutions to recruit, train and retain behavioral health professionals, especially in rural and underserved communities. With over half of the state’s practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners over the age of 50, the shortage is expected to grow in the next decade.
As highlighted in the report, through the Ambassador Program, BHECN introduces students from rural communities to behavioral health careers beginning in high school and following them through professional studies. Using a two-year educational grant awarded by the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute, this effort is extended through the Virtual Mentorship Network, which connects students statewide via teleconferencing to behavioral health mentors in their area of interest. BHECN also funds and supports behavioral health trainees and psychiatric residents who experience firsthand what it’s like to provide care in rural communities through scheduled rotations across the state.
Reaching the professional community, BHECN has conducted live and online training for more than 3,200 individuals including clinical professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists and addiction counselors, and the general public, such as teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders. Professionals can also search jobs throughout the state via a free jobs board, NebraskaBehavioralHealthJobs.com, launched earlier this year in partnership with Region 5 Behavioral Health Systems.
For more information about BHECN or to view the legislative report, visit www.unmc.edu/bhecn.