Research plays a vital role in understanding the needs for behavioral health workforce development and training. In collaboration with other academic institutions and federal agencies, BHECN conducts a variety of behavioral health workforce projects to inform the public policies and practices to improve access to and quality of behavioral health care in Nebraska, the Mid-America region, and the United States.

Research focus areas for BHECN include Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis, Provider Education and Training, Integrated Care, School-Based Mental Health, Women’s Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorders.

Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis: BHECN is proud to be one of the national leaders in behavioral health workforce analysis. Nebraska is one of the few states with an active surveillance system to longitudinally track licensed health professional data collected by the Health Professional Tracking Services (HPTS). Bi-annually, BHECN conducts an analysis of HPTS data to examine the time and geographic trends of six behavioral health providers in Nebraska – Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Physician Assistants, Psychologists, Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioners, Licensed Mental Health Practitioners, and Licensed Addiction and Drug Counselors. In addition to ongoing workforce analysis, BHECN also conducts special studies to investigate emerging topics such as telehealth and provisional licenses.

Provider and Community Education & Training: BHECN is a national expert on behavioral health workforce training and education. BHECN currently implements several federally funded projects to train and educate professionals who practice in a variety of clinical and community settings.

Substance Use Disorders: Nationally, problematic alcohol use and related behaviors are the third preventable leading cause of death. The USDA reported rising mortality rates among working-age rural adults due to prescription drug misuse and heroin abuse. Also, as a rural state, Nebraska faces some unique challenges in response to substance use and the opioid crisis. BHECN faculty are involved with a number of education and research projects to address substance use issues including:

Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Care

School-Based Mental Health

Women’s Mental Health

Dr. Marley Doyle, BHECN Director, is currently conducting a survey of rural obstetricians to assess their need for perinatal psychiatry services in their communities.