CHADRON – Chadron State College will become a more integral partner in the state’s efforts to recruit and retain behavioral health professionals with the announcement of Dr. Tara Wilson, associate professor in Counseling, as co-director of the new Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) Panhandle. Dr. Cate Jones-Hazledine, a CSC adjunct faculty member, and licensed, private-practice psychologist based in Rushville, is the other co-director. Both co-directors will be part-time.
The announcement of Nebraska’s second BHECN distance site is especially exciting for Wilson who completed the internship for her master’s degree in Community Counseling with Jones-Hazledine in 2010. Jones-Hazledine’s offices throughout the Panhandle have been internship sites for numerous CSC students.
BHECN, pronounced beacon, was established in 2009 by the State Legislature to help meet behavioral health needs in rural Nebraska. The organization, directed by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is making an impact. In 2018, 32 Nebraska counties reported no behavioral health care providers compared to 48 counties without behavioral health care in 2014.
Director of BHECN, Dr. Marley Doyle said the agency recognizes that each part of the state has unique behavioral health needs.
“Luckily, the Panhandle is blessed with phenomenal and committed providers who have made stellar partners. Together, we developed the shared vision to involve CSC as an extension of BHECN to enhance and expand the BHECN mission. We could not be more thrilled and know that this partnership will benefit Nebraska for years to come,” Doyle said.
According to Wilson, who is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and Nationally Certified Counselor, the two main goals of BHECN Panhandle are recruiting to the behavioral health workforce and retaining current providers. Recruitment will take the form of Wilson and Jones-Hazledine presenting career fairs at three middle schools in the Panhandle the first year. Retention efforts will be concentrated in the BHECN Panhandle summer conference.
“We are really lucky to have BHECN in the Panhandle. This is an awesome opportunity,” Wilson said. “There are many benefits to working in a behavioral health career in a rural area, but it is not without its challenges. Through the support of BHECN and UMNC, we hope help meet the needs of western Nebraska by increasing the number of behavioral health professionals. Additionally, we hope to help decrease burn-out with support and networking of those providers already doing great work throughout the panhandle.”
Jones-Hazledine is excited about the opportunity to work with Wilson in their new roles.
“BHECN has been supportive of our goals in the western end of the state for many years and this formal establishment of Panhandle BHECN is the culmination of that. Tara and I are both natives of the area, and we have many ideas about what is needed,” Jones-Hazledine said. “I am very excited to be in a position to impact recruitment and retention of behavioral health providers in this part of the state, and grateful for the support of BHECN and UNMC.“
Dr. Tina Chasek, who has directed BHECN’s first distance site in Kearney since 2015, has been a source of information and support for Wilson and Jones-Hazledine over the past few years as they have discussed the creation of BHECN in western Nebraska.
Chasek said BHECN is dedicated to improving access to behavioral health care across the state of Nebraska by developing a skilled workforce. BHECN has supported CSC Counseling and Psychology programs with multiple grants.
“The collaboration with Chadron State College, providers in the Panhandle, and invested stakeholders to form BHECN Panhandle is critical in the efforts to ensure all Nebraskans have access to quality behavioral healthcare,” Chasek said. “Dr. Tara Wilson and Dr. Cate Jones-Hazledine are leaders in the efforts to expand access and training to behavioral healthcare providers in the Panhandle of Nebraska.”
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator