Building Georgia’s Behavioral Health Workforce for OUD/SUD Prevention and Treatment
In 2014, deaths related to drug overdose (primarily opioid abuse) in Georgia surpassed deaths due to motor vehicle crashes. This program will increase the number of behavioral health professionals who can provide opioid use disorders/substance use disorders (OUD/SUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery services in high-need and high-demand areas of Georgia.
Health Resources and Services Administration
Opioid Workforce Expansion Program Professionals
- Principal investigator
Bernadette Davantes Heckman
- Active since
This program will increase the number of behavioral health professionals who can provide OUD/SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services in high-need and high-demand areas of Georgia. In 2014, deaths related to drug overdose (primarily opioid abuse) in Georgia surpassed deaths due to motor vehicle crashes. Data also showed that 93% of people in rural Georgia have limited or no access to medication assisted treatments (MATs).
This project will increase Georgia’s behavioral health workforce of mental health counselors, social workers, and psychologists and enhance their competencies in OUD/SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services. This project will also leverage an ongoing HRSA-funded project (BHWET; HRSA 17-070) that established numerous partnerships with community-based organizations and provides inter-professional and integrated behavioral health-primary care services to:
- Expand internship/practicum sites into inpatient/outpatient OUD/SUD treatment facilities for youth and adults in Georgia’s Health District 10 (of which all 10 counties are mental health shortage areas)
- Strengthen health psychology curricula to include intensive didactic training in evidence-based primary, secondary, and tertiary treatments for OUDs/SUDs, with specific training in integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders
- Strengthen student competencies to deliver evidence-based prevention and treatment modalities used in integrated and team-based practices and trauma-informed care for OUD/SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services
- Enhance field placement supervisors’ skills in inter-professional integrated behavioral health and OUD/SUD treatments to support and guide student-training experiences
- Create and develop a new training collaborative infrastructure among psychology, social work, and mental health counseling that facilitates inter-professional skills and experiences
- Develop sustainable linkage to care plans in field placement/internship sites that facilitate the integration of pharmacotherapy, behavioral-health, primary care services, and MATs
- Leverage our 20 years of tele-behavioral health services to provide telephone-administered OUD/SUD prevention and treatment services to geographically- and psychologically-distant individuals through Georgia’s teleECHO Network
Goals and specific, measurable objectives of the project
The project’s ability to increase the size and efficacy of the behavioral health workforce will be assessed through the following metrics:
- Number of students supported through this initiative
- Trainees’ future employment rates in behavioral health worksites
- Number of sites that support and participate as behavioral health placement/practicum
- Student-trainees OUD/SUD treatment self-efficacy and inter-professional competencies
- Number of OUD/SUD clients who receive HIV and viral hepatitis testing
- OUD/SUD clients outcomes, such as intentions to reduce alcohol and illicit drug use.
All planned activities are highly sustainable and will remain in-place after the funding period has expired.