Behavioral Health Education Center to host its first conference in Scottsbluff

by Jennifer Bull
May 16, 2018

Image with caption: Howard Liu, M.D.

Howard Liu, M.D.

Leaders from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN, pronounced "beacon") will host the first annual Rural Provider Support Network Conference on Friday, May 18. Local behavioral health professionals throughout the Nebraska panhandle will gather to network and learn about developing support systems for behavioral health providers in rural practice.

The majority of the state of Nebraska is considered a shortage area for behavioral health providers of all types, particularly in rural areas. In Nebraska, 88 of 93 counties meet federal criteria for designation as Mental Health Professions Shortage Areas, and 32 counties lack a behavioral health provider of any kind.

Research indicates that this problem is furthered by difficulties with recruitment and retention of providers to the most isolated areas.

BHECN leaders, including Howard Liu, M.D., director and child psychiatrist; Joe Evans, Ph.D., clinical director and licensed psychologist; and Catherine Jones-Hazledine, Ph.D., also known as "Dr. Cate," a licensed psychologist with Western Nebraska Behavioral Health, will lead the conference.

"This conference is important because it’s the first step toward establishing a rural provider support network," Dr. Jones-Hazledine said. "Rural areas of our state continue to be very underserved regarding mental health providers. The support network is designed to help address some of these needs and hopefully improve retention of providers."

The conference will provide continuing education and information for rural mental health providers on a variety of relevant topics: ethical practice; integrative care in rural areas; using reflective practice to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue; and understanding consumer issues. There also will be several networking opportunities for attendees.

Conference schedule

WHEN:  May 18 from 8:45 a.m. - 2:45 p.m. MDT

WHERE:  Harms Advanced Technology Center, 2620 College Park, Scottsbluff, Neb.

9:15 a.m., Welcome message from Drs. Liu and Jones-Hazledine

9:30 a.m., Ethics for rural behavioral health providers

10:40 a.m., Panel discussion on ethical and scope of practice issues

12:30 p.m., Reflective practice

1:40 p.m., Integrating behavioral health into primary care in rural Nebraska

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN), pronounced "beacon," 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 the 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. For more information about BHECN, visit