High School Conference in South Omaha Begins Building Pipeline of Latino Behavioral Health Providers
The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) and the UNMC College of Public Health Center for Reducing Health Disparities hosted a High School Ambassador Conference in South Omaha on March 6. The BHECN Ambassador Program recruits and mentors students from rural and underserved communities from high school through college and professional school and into behavioral health professions.
Nebraska’s Latino community needs more behavioral health professionals who understand the culture and who speak Spanish. The Ambassador Conference helps BHECN begin to fill that need by connecting students with information and resources to explore behavioral health careers. 25 high school students from five Nebraska high schools in the Omaha area attended the conference. Five students from UNO and Creighton, along with 14 providers & faculty representing the diverse array of behavioral health and substance use professions presented and interacted with the students.
“The High School Ambassador conference is the beginning of the pipeline in recruiting future behavioral health professionals. By identifying high school students with an interest in behavioral health careers before they even enter college, we’re able to connect them with faculty and professionals in the field to help mentor them and shape their careers,” said Howard Liu, director at BHECN.
Athena Ramos, community health program manager at the Center for Reducing Health Disparities added, “This conference was a great opportunity to expose young South Omaha students to career options within the behavioral health field. We know that there is a growing demand for bilingual and bicultural professionals within the field across our state. It is imperative that we focus on developing the capacity to meet the behavioral health needs of the future.”