Nebraska is reforming the state behavioral health system, moving from institutional care to consumer-based, interdisciplinary community care, with an emphasis on the recovery model of services and treatment. This process of reform is consistent with the national vision outlined in the President's New Freedom Commission report in 2002, Achieving the Promise -Transforming Mental Health Care in America.

The needs and issues expressed in that report were addressed in LB 1083, passed in 2004, which reformed the mental health system through state and regional leadership. The focus became maintaining wellness and recovery through resources located close to home, while integrating the support of families and loved ones. The bill also advocated staying out of the hospital, when possible, in favor of less expensive supportive services based in the community - thereby enabling continuance of employment and daily family life.

The passage of LB 603 in 2009 led the way to the creation of the statewide, interprofessional Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska. BHECN's purpose is to support the recruitment, retention and increased competency of the state's behavioral health workforce. To meet this purpose, we will need to collaborate with partners, listen to our stakeholders, identify resources and barriers, and include consumers and their families in our work. BHECN's goals are to provide accessible education and training that meet the needs of employers, behavioral health professionals and consumers. In the process, it will provide first rate, interprofessional education services which satisfy the continuing education requirements for licensure and certification.

In addressing the urgent shortage of behavioral health care providers and services in every county in Nebraska---rural communities in particular, LB 603 has in effect created BHECN...engaging us all in the beginning steps toward planning and implementing an interprofessional, multi-disciplinary collaborative infrastructure. BHECN is fully committed to the critical task at hand and the following Mission Driven Strategies guide us, forming the bedrock for all our activities.

BHECN Mission Driven Strategies
I. 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.

II. 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.

III. 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.

IV. 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.

V. 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.

Supporting Strategies
VI. 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.

VII. Resources: Financial and Operational. BHECN will build a viable infrastructure to meet the goals of BHECN's mission and fund its strategic initiatives.