Behavioral Health Education Program offers workforce development for practitioners serving Native communities

Published on September 29, 2022

The Native Center for Behavioral Health based at the University of Iowa recently launched the Behavioral Health Education Program (BHEP), a training curriculum for behavioral health practitioners working in tribal and urban Native communities. The program’s goal is to implement a sustainable training regimen to encourage workforce development specific to addressing behavioral health issues throughout American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.

The BHEP project group has been working since 2020 to structure and develop course content. The first set of five courses was piloted in spring 2022. Called the “Introduction to Behavioral Health Series,” the sessions were held virtually and were designed for behavioral health providers, mental health technicians, peer support specialists, and those working in primary care settings, schools, and social services.

The introductory series reached 1,375 participants from at least 36 states and Puerto Rico, and from at least 54 federally recognized tribes.

The program evaluations were very positive, with one attendee writing, “This was a wonderful training. It will help me tremendously in my work therapeutically treating Native American people.”

“It has been very rewarding working with Dr. Ken Winters, our curriculum writer, and the GRA students on this project, and watch it grow into a 40-module educational program,” says Monica Dreyer Rossi, BHEP research manager. “The topics have definitely sparked a lot of interest, and the icing on the cake is the large crowd the first series drew and how well it was received by the audience.”

The second series of courses, “Fundamentals of Substance Use and Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders,” is designed for providers of substance use treatment and prevention services, peer support specialists, and those working in primary care settings, social services, schools, and mental health settings. The courses will take place in September and October 2022. Learn more about the course topics and register.

For more information about BHEP, contact