BHECN Leaders Visit Panhandle to Further Discussion on Workforce Growth Initiatives


BHECN Leaders Visit Panhandle to Further Discussion on Workforce Growth Initiatives

Leaders from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN, pronounced “beacon”) ( visited behavioral health partners in three areas of the Panhandle October 5-6 to discuss behavioral health workforce growth initiatives.

BHECN leaders, including Howard Liu, M.D., BHECN’s director and child psychiatrist, and Joe Evans, Ph.D., BHECN’s clinical director and licensed psychologist, met with educators, providers and community leaders in North Platte, Scottsbluff, Chadron and Rushville over the two-day trip.

In Nebraska, 88 of 93 counties meet federal criteria for designation as Mental Health Professions Shortage Areas with more than 50 percent of the behavioral health workforce over the age of 50. This workforce includes addiction counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurse practitioners.

BHECN’s initiatives focus on workforce pipeline development, mentoring and training programs, and integrating behavioral health professionals into primary care medical clinics. In collaboration with the 15 behavioral health academic programs that educate the state’s licensed professionals, BHECN’s goal is to retain 50 percent of students in Nebraska.

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska was established in 2009 by Legislative Bill 603 to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services, commonly referred to as behavioral health services, for all Nebraskans through development of a skilled workforce. It is a unique partnership among the state legislature, academic institutions, and community partners to create a statewide workforce solution for the shortage of licensed behavioral health professionals. More information about BHECN’s behavioral health workforce initiatives can be found at