- Bill O'Connell, EdD, Associate Professor and Director of the Behavioral Health Support Specialist Clinical Training Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
- Juliann Salisbury, MSW, Program Manager, Behavioral Health Support Specialist Clinical Training Program, University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Seattle, WA
Over 46.6 million Americans suffer from mental illnesses, yet a majority are treated solely with medication, despite consistent documentation that over 50% prefer having psychosocial treatments as part of their care. Ethnic minorities, older adults, and people living in rural areas are at greatest risk of not receiving psychosocial treatment, despite their preference for this treatment. The U.S. has a shortage of mental healthcare specialists, with nearly 120 million Americans living in federally designated mental health provider shortage areas. There is strong evidence that training bachelor level (BA) people in evidence-based strategies results in far better access to this care and greater clinical and societal outcomes. Other countries around the world have used this model to overcome these shortages of professionals. Training BA level practitioners to deliver evidence-based psychosocial interventions will overcome racial, ethnic, age, SES, and rural disparities in access to mental health care, resulting in high societal impact. The Biden administration as of March 2022 encouraged piloting new approaches in the preparation and education of bachelor level paraprofessionals as part of a comprehensive plan to address the national mental health crisis. Based on the initiative in the United Kingdom to train BA behavioral health support specialists in structured, low intensity, evidenced based interventions, the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, with support from the Ballmer Foundation, is developing a curriculum that will be available to higher educational institutions to incorporate into existing behavioral health programs. The curriculum will include use of an intelligent tutoring system to advance self-paced skill development outside of the classroom; training in structured, low intensity, evidenced based patient activation and cognitive behavioral strategies; and measurement-based care. As the result of completing the curriculum and subsequent supervised practicum, graduates will be prepared to deliver interventions under supervision. This new paraprofessional role will be defined by a state certification process. This presentation will engage the audience to explore the opportunity to train and deploy this new BHSS workforce to support care delivery within integrated care settings. We will also review potential opportunities for this new BHSS workforce to engage qualified individuals in seeking graduate level training.
- Identify key curricular components for preparing bachelor level behavioral health specialists and understand use of technology in skill preparation.
- Explain the difference between low-intensity and high-intensity interventions that distinguish the work of a bachelor level paraprofessional.
- Demonstrate knowledge of supervisory skills for bachelor level providers that include measurement-based care and treatment to target.