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Grant aims to address shortage of mental health services in Nebraska

A grant is working to change that by trying to increase the number of those workers in under-served areas. (NTV News)

Only five counties throughout Nebraska do not have a shortage in mental health professionals.

A grant is working to change that by trying to increase the number of those workers in under-served areas.

The Behavioral Health Education Center has received a $1.1 million grant to increase mental health professionals in rural and under-served areas in Nebraska.

All four counties the South Heartland District Health Department serves are deemed mental health professional shortage areas.

Michele Bever of the South Heartland District Health Department said this grant will allow them to increase their resources to help those with mental health issues.

"We have the opportunity for folks, community health workers or other people who might be interested to take advantage of the funding and resources from this grant to get additional training so the training will allow them help with the bigger strategy of addressing mental health in our areas,” Bever said.

Dr. Brent Khan of the Behavioral Health Education Center explained there are two major focuses with this grant.

"The two parts are to increase and provide training for community health workers and to provide training for provisionally licensed alcohol and drug counselors,” Khan said.

Bever said it fits well with their community assessment and strategies. These include promoting awareness for behavioral health, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

"Filling in the gaps for those resources that are not here. We are also bringing training in, mental health first aid, trauma informed care to various organizations to help them better serve folks who may have mental health and wellness needs,” Bever said.

With these strategies, Bever is hoping this is a step in the right direction to addressing the shortage of mental health resources.

"Just dovetails nicely with our plan so it’s going to help us move forward move our progress in our plan,” Bever said.

The grant is funded by Health Resources and Services Administration, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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