Behavioral Health in Nebraska’s Panhandle
Tara & Cate’s Story
BHECN Panhandle was established in 2019 to focus on the recruitment and retention of rural behavioral health professionals. It is a sub-group of the larger BHECN (Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska), which is based in Omaha.
BHECN was established because of the need to increase the behavioral health workforce. Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, we consider 88 of them to be experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals — and 29 counties don’t have any behavioral health professionals at all. Nebraska’s behavioral health workforce shortage is especially evident in rural areas. Furthermore, Nebraska’s behavioral health workforce is aging, with more than half the workforce over age 50.
BHECN Panhandle not only supports current clinicians, but it also provides support to students coming into the field. We have been able to be part of efforts bringing clinicians together for learning opportunities and consultation, as well as helping rural students explore and learn about possible careers in their home areas.
Our favorite part about working with BHECN is the opportunity to connect with behavioral health students and behavioral health professionals. It is wonderful to be a part of BHECN, as it has done a remarkable job of strengthening the retention and recruitment efforts across the state of Nebraska. BHECN understands that rural behavioral health has its unique own needs and it supports us!
Rural Behavioral Health is also exciting because there is never a dull moment. As providers in rural areas, we, Drs. Jones-Hazledine and Wilson, are a part of the community, and we’re called upon to wear many hats: direct service, planning, teaching, outreach. Both of us are originally from the rural areas where we now live and work, and those ties make the work we do even more meaningful.
We love rural health because of the people we serve.
Dr. Cate Jones-Hazledine
Co-Director, BHECN Panhandle Co-Director
Dr. Tara Wilson
Co-Director, BHECN Panhandle