BHECN opens applications for ARPA awards

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) is accepting proposals — the first in a series of funding cycles — to develop the behavioral health workforce in Nebraska.  

Earlier this year, the Nebraska Legislature allocated $25.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to BHECN. In turn, BHECN will award that funding through a competitive process to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of behavioral health professionals.  

"The pandemic caused a dramatic increase in the need for behavioral health services, and with providers already in short supply, many people experienced long wait times or a complete inability to access behavioral health care," said Marley Doyle, MD, director of BHECN, the state’s behavioral health workforce development center administered at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "This has become a crisis for many areas of the state, particularly in rural areas." 

Funding will be distributed through a competitive request for proposal process based on four major areas: 

  • Behavioral health training opportunities: Projects should focus on providing training and clinical experience opportunities for behavioral health students, trainees and professionals.  

  • Telebehavioral health support in rural areas: Projects should focus on increasing access to behavioral health care through telebehavioral services.  

  • Behavioral health workforce projects for students and behavioral health professionals: Projects should be related to behavioral health issues caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Projects in this award category should focus on providing educational programs, recruitment and retention projects, and research related to the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • Funding for licensed behavioral health supervisors currently employed in Nebraska: Projects should be focused on supporting supervision costs as organizations/providers supervise provisionally licensed, behavioral health professionals.  

All Nebraska organization/providers are eligible to apply for the awards. Applicants can request funding for up to three years (funding expires Dec. 31, 2025). 

"We encourage all organizations and providers to dream big and apply for funding to help us address and improve behavioral health care across our state," Dr. Doyle said. "The need for increased behavioral health resources has long existed and grown even more dire with the pandemic." 

Applications for the initial funding cycle are open now (Aug. 17) through Oct. 14. To learn more about the award categories, the funding cycle or to submit an application, visit the BHECN website

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care. 

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