DHHS, Nebraska Medical Association Team Up To Develop Behavioral Health Program

News Release
For Immediate Release: 12/21/2021

Julie Naughton, Office of Communications, (402) 471-1695 (office); (402) 405-7202 (cell);

Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)'s Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) and the Nebraska Medical Association (NMA) are teaming up to develop a specialized training, competency development and professional consultation program to further integrate behavioral health treatment within Nebraska's physical health provider network.

“The purpose of this exciting new project is to innovate coordination of and service access to healthcare resources especially in rural Nebraska," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at DHHS. “We know that behavioral health is essential to overall health. For example, persons with any mental illness or substance use disorder are more likely to have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke than those without mental illness or substance use disorders. Frequently individuals are more likely to use hospitalization and emergency room treatment late in their illness progression. We welcome NMA's partnership and know that they will be providing valuable guidance, insight, education, services and training to Nebraska's medical community that in turn will help us serve local communities and Nebraskans in a more integrated and holistic manner."

Integrating behavioral health across public and private systems is a key pillar of DBH's 2022-2024 Strate​gic Plan, focusing on increasing integration between substance use treatment providers and mental health treatment providers and increasing behavioral health services/access in a variety of settings including crisis services. A second pillar focused on driving innovation and improving outcomes, intends to expand evidence-based practices through cross-system engagement and planning and expand use of technology for improved behavioral health outcomes.

At present, the project is in an initial needs assessment phase, assessing the areas of greatest needs and prioritizing accordingly.

“The Nebraska Medical Association welcomes the opportunity to provide training and consultation to critical access hospitals and emergency departments, long-term care facilities, and other primary

healthcare settings, and guide the leadership of behavioral health integration across the service continuum," said Amy Reynoldson, executive vice president of the Nebraska Medical Association, who is also working with board-certified psychiatrist Todd Stull on the project. “In rural Nebraska, many of our physicians are general practitioners, and we want to assist and encourage them to expand access to behavioral health. We are partnering with DHHS to develop the tools and competencies needed for success."

NMA will provide specialized training, competency development, and professional consultation to

physicians and providers related to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in emergency care settings for non-opioid addictions; MAT for pregnant and post-partum women for non-opioid addictions; perform ongoing work related to expanding prescriber competencies and comfort in prescribing MAT in all other healthcare settings, and implementing integrated care along the continuum. Consultation will be available to prescribers and medical providers on demand, including mentoring, and NMA will travel to meet with providers in person, offer training, and provide onsite consultation as needed.

NMA will also provide staff resources to work with providers who are open to doing more behavioral health assessments but are not yet ready to transition to an integrated health model.

Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 para Español
  • Your faith-based leader, your healthcare professional, or student health center on campus.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline: (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)


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