Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Center!

Welcome to the Behavioral Health Workforce Center (BHWC). The BHWC will increase access to effective behavioral health services through coordinated initiatives to recruit, educate, and retain professionals in behavioral health. Opportunities and information will be available to those looking to further or begin a career in behavioral health across a broad range of professions. BHWC initiatives will increase access and quality of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services for individuals with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. State agencies, state universities, community colleges, K-12 organizations, mental health providers, and behavioral health provider associations and organizations will partner to build, support, and strengthen the behavioral health workforce of the future.

Primary Goals

The Behavioral Health Workforce Center will strengthen the behavioral healthcare system in Illinois by achieving the following:

  • Assess the shortage and needs of the behavioral health workforce across the state on an on-going basis to provide information on areas with the most critical need.
  • Increase the number and diversity of behavioral health workers, including individuals with lived expertise, social workers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals providing effective behavioral health services across the state.
  • Identify and address barriers to behavioral health care workforce recruitment, training, and retention.
  • Increase quality of care through support for training initiatives.
  • Increase access to services by increasing the capacity of providers to address behavioral health and substance use needs in primary health care settings through effective telehealth services and in non-traditional settings.

Core Principles

The Behavioral Health Workforce Center and consortium of higher education partners will be innovative, collaborative, and sustainable. Together, the lead hubs and member institutions will support:

  • Building and retaining a competent, diverse workforce that:
    • Provides developmentally appropriate, evidence- and trauma-informed care.
    • Provides high-quality and culturally and linguistically appropriate services tailored to the needs of local communities.
    • Uses a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice (DEIRJ) lens and promotes social and racial justice in health care.
    • Understands the social determinants of health and empowers individuals to consider these social determinants of health when it comes to their own well-being.
    • Increases access to care for communities across all regions of Illinois.
    • Provides comprehensive services from prevention to treatment of clinical diagnoses and inclusive of both substance use and mental health issues.
  • Data-informed analysis and decision-making about state, regional, and community needs for clinicians, hospitals, and clinics.
  • Voice for individuals with lived expertise via person-centered, family-driven, and youth-guided care.
  • Innovative use of technologies to provide access to behavioral health care and education.
  • Providing transparent, aligned pathways for recruitment, retention, and advancement from high school through graduate-/professional-level education to support competency-based career growth, with a particular focus on increasing the diversity of the workforce.
  • Providing enhanced access to educational and training opportunities to support career growth through a consortium of public and private institutions across all regions of the state that work collectively.