BHECN is dedicated to improving access to behavioral health care across the state of Nebraska by developing a skilled and passionate workforce.
Behavioral health care is changing. As a nation, we have moved away from providing care in institutions and psychiatric hospitals toward an approach that supports people with behavioral health needs in their community, close to the support of family and friends.
Like other states, Nebraska has reformed its state behavioral health system. In 2004, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 1083 which formally moved the state away from institutional care delivered at three state-run Regional Centers toward a community-based approach focused on maintaining wellness and recovery through resources in a person’s home community.
Despite Nebraska’s progress in the last 10 years, a shortage of behavioral health professionals remains. This prevents us from fully realizing the vision of LB 1083 – to get people the help they need when and where they need it. 88 of Nebraska’s 93 counties are recognized as mental health professional shortage areas by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
To address this workforce shortage, in 2009 the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 603 and created BHECN (Nebraska Revised Statutes § 71-830). BHECN's purpose is to recruit, retain and increase competency of the state's behavioral health workforce. To meet this purpose, we collaborate with partners, listen to our stakeholders, identify resources and barriers, and include consumers and their families in our work. Our goal is to provide accessible education and training to meet the needs of employers, behavioral health professionals and consumers. We provide first-rate, interprofessional education services which satisfy the continuing education requirements for licensure and certification.
1. Behavioral health education and training sites in each region. BHECN will develop six behavioral health regional sites to support local participation in inter-professional workforce development.
2. Behavioral telehealth training. BHECN will provide leadership and training in behavioral telehealth and other innovative means of care delivery to the entire behavioral health workforce.
3. Interprofessional behavioral health training, curriculum development and outcomes research. BHECN will establish interprofessional collaborative partnerships to create, link and disseminate education and training materials for the development of the behavioral health workforce, with emphasis on the recovery-focused needs of consumers.
4. Fund psychiatry residents and other behavioral health trainees. BHECN will fund additional psychiatric residents (two each year, up to a total of eight) trained in interprofessional and telehealth service delivery to rural and underserved areas. BHECN will facilitate funding of training of other behavioral health professions.
5. Behavioral health workforce analysis. BHECN will facilitate the collection, analysis and dissemination of behavioral health workforce data and the prioritization of training and recruitment of behavioral health professional by type and region.
6. Networks. BHECN will develop resource networks of highly committed, competent and diverse individuals, committees, partners and champions. The communication and education plan will foster access to resources to support and implement BHECN's mission and goals.
7. Resources: Financial and Operational. BHECN will build a viable infrastructure to meet the goals of BHECN's mission and fund its strategic initiatives.