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The Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative

Overview

House Bill 2949 (2021) directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to increase the recruitment and retention of behavioral health providers who:

  • Are people of color, tribal members, or residents of rural areas of Oregon, and
  • Can provide culturally responsive care for diverse communities.

To do this, OHA created the Behavioral Health Workforce InitiatIve. The initiative's funding includes:

  • $60 million to develop a diverse behavioral health workforce in licensed and non-licensed occupations through scholarships, loan repayment, and retention.
  • $20 million for grants to licensed behavioral health providers to provide supervised clinical experience to associates or other individuals so they may obtain a license to practice.

Goals

  • Increase behavioral health system capacity to provide care that deeply embeds practices and promotes principles of health equity, cultural responsiveness, de-stigmatization of services, restorative healing and community empowerment.
  • Develop and invest in a culturally specific workforce and increase access to culturally responsive services and interventions.
  • Engage communities through shared decision-making to build structures, processes, resources and supports for increasing recruitment and retention of a culturally specific behavioral health workforce.

Types of Incentives

  • Clinical supervision grants
  • Scholarships: Funding training through community-based providers
  • Student loan repayment
  • Child care assistance
  • Housing assistance

The Behavioral Health Community Leadership Council

The council is a body of diverse behavioral health professionals who work with OHA to administer House Bill 2949. The council's aims is to bring representation and lived experience from Oregon's diverse communities to help guide and improve culturally specific and equitable services to Oregon's underserved communities.