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National Council for Behavioral Health honors BHECN

Image with caption: The staff of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska includes, top row from left, Joe Evans, Ph.D.; Krista Roberts, Ann Kraft, Robin Bayless, Brent Khan, Ed.D.; bottom row from left, Keith Anderson; Howard Liu, M.D.; and Bill Baerentzen. BHECN, which also has a branch at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has been named a recipient of the National Council for Behavioral Health's 2016 Awards of Excellence.

The staff of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska includes, top row from left, Joe Evans, Ph.D.; Krista Roberts, Ann Kraft, Robin Bayless, Brent Khan, Ed.D.; bottom row from left, Keith Anderson; Howard Liu, M.D.; and Bill Baerentzen. BHECN, which also has a branch at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has been named a recipient of the National Council for Behavioral Health's 2016 Awards of Excellence.

The UNMC-based Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) has been named a recipient of the National Council for Behavioral Health's 2016 Awards of Excellence.

Change Maker

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) launched an Ambassador Program to recruit an up-and-coming workforce among high school and college students, reaching nearly 2,000 students to-date. Through a Virtual Mentorship Network, BHECN connects more than 50 high school and college students statewide via teleconferencing to behavioral health mentors in their area of interest. BHECN conducts live and online training and continuing education for more than 3,200 people, including behavioral health providers and community members. BHECN also partnered with Region 5 Behavioral Health Systems to launch a free job search website, NebraskaBehavioralHealthJobs.com, for both employers and job seekers. To date, nearly 300 jobs have been posted with more than 5,700 visits.

The awards honor people and organizations that improve the lives of people living with mental illnesses and addictions, increase understanding of behavioral health in their communities, advocate for public policy reforms, advance professional development and devote their lives to helping others.

BHECN was recognized with a Change Makers Award as "Champions of Training and Workforce Development." BHECN was selected from more than 1,000 applicants to receive this award.

"BHECN's mission is to develop the skilled and passionate behavioral health workforce needed in every neighborhood in Nebraska," said Howard Liu, M.D., director of BHECN. "We are honored to receive this award from the National Council because it recognizes that our efforts offer not only hope for our state, but inspiration for the country as we mentor our best students to embrace careers in mental health. Thanks to all of our partners for your dedication!"

Steven Wengel, M.D., chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry, congratulated the BHECN team for the recognition.

"I am extremely proud of what BHECN has accomplished in many areas, and especially in its tireless efforts to increase the behavioral health workforce for the state," Dr. Wengel said. "This award is a testament to BHECN's successes in increasing access to care from behavioral health providers from all disciplines."

Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said that notifying award winners such as BHECN was one of the best parts of her job.

"These awards mean so much to the winners," she said. "But the reality is that their work and dedication means so much to us -- to the health care field, to people and families living with mental illnesses and addictions and to communities at-large."

This year's awards include 18 categories with 21 winners, chosen by a panel of health care leaders.

As an honoree, BHECN will receive $10,000 to be donated to the nonprofit organization of its choice and will be recognized at the  Celebration of Excellence Concert and Dinner on March 8 during the 2016 National Council Conference in Las Vegas.

To learn more about the 2016 honorees and their accomplishments, visit the National Council's Awards of Excellence site.

What others are saying

"Congratulations to the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska for receiving the Champion of Training and Workforce Development Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health. To be selected from more than 1,000 applications speaks volumes about BHECN's level of excellence in promoting professional development. It is wonderful to see this level of excellence receive the national recognition it deserves."
- Sen. Sue Crawford, Nebraska Legislative District 45

"This a well-deserved award to BHECN, and clearly they deserve this honor. The BHECN program is NAMI Nebraska's most referred-to agency when we are looking for answers to mental health care in the state, needing a speaker for a conference or for providing forums for ideas and discussion. BHECN is a catalyst and great partner for all of us from the small agency to the largest hospital."
- Tom Adams, executive director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Nebraska

"From a Regional Behavioral Health System of Care perspective, we applaud the work BHECN has accomplished to promote workforce solutions in our state. Just as important as ensuring there are needed services in our community is the importance of having a strong, viable workforce in the behavioral health field. Given Nebraska's low unemployment rate, this makes it especially difficult to attract and retain a workforce. Working collaboratively with BHECN on the NebraskaBehavioralHealthJobs.com website, Region V Systems is honored to be a partner with BHECN to promote creative ways to bring together employers and job seekers."
- C.J. Johnson, regional administrator, Region V Systems

"I am so pleased that BHECN received such a prestigious award. BHECN has had many partners involved in promoting interest in careers in the behavioral health field, and I am so appreciative of the support and collaboration of those partners. I am also proud of the BHECN team for 'pushing the ball forward!' Well done!"
- Rhonda Hawks, The Hawks Foundation

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