BHECN awarded $3.7 million grant

February 12, 2019

Photo of Dr. Howard Liu, Former Director of BHECN

by Lisa Spellman,
UNMC public relations | January 24, 2019

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) at UNMC has received a five-year, $3.7 million collaborative grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The Mid-American Mental Health Technology & Transfer Center (MHTTC) grant will provide mental health training and technical assistance to behavioral health-focused agencies and 87 community health centers. It also will benefit behavioral health professionals, schools, federally qualified health centers, state agencies such as divisions of behavioral health, regional associations of behavioral health providers and individual providers in a four-state region, which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.


"In the last two years the grants we've received have tripled the initial funding of $1.5 million that came out of the state legislature, and that support has been so instrumental in getting the center where it is today," said Howard Liu, M.D., director of BHECN and co-project director of the grant and chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry.


The grant also is a reflection of the expertise BHECN has.


"BHECN was chosen to receive the award due to its history with training and consultation across mental health topics," said Joe Evans, Ph.D., project director of the grant and professor of psychology at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at UNMC.


The grant will focus on four areas, he said, including:

  • Integrated behavioral health in the primary care clinical setting;
  • School mental health;
  • Behavioral health workforce development; and
  • Serious mental illness.

A goal of the grant is to develop expertise in each state so the initiatives can be sustained once the grant is done, Dr. Evans said.


They plan to do this, he said, by providing intensive training of trainers within integrated behavioral health and primary clinical care settings and putting together a resource toolkit.


"But it's more than just conducting workshops," Dr. Evans said. "The purpose is to implement evidence-based practices in these states."


The National Coordinating Center located at Stanford University and the University of Missouri at Kansas City will develop a portion of the overall national agenda, while BHECN will develop a regional agenda for the four-state partnership, Dr. Evans said.


Implementation will happen in phases starting with a review of needs assessments and development of regional teams in the areas of focus within each of the four states. 

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