State to Strengthen Behavioral Health

Nebraska’s DHHS released an assessment study to identify strengths and gaps in the state’s public behavioral health system across DHHS divisions. The study also identified the needs of special populations such as persons with developmental disabilities and the homeless population.

According to the needs assessment study, one in five Nebraskans have experienced mental illness and substance use disorder within the past year, indicating that mental health disorders are relatively widespread.

Over 37,000 children in the state experience behavioral health disorders, according to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health Nationally, half of all lifetime mental illness begins at the average of 14 and three quarters by age 24.

Grant funding will develop services that either don’t exist currently in the system but will focus efforts on prevention, early identification, and intervention measures to reduce out-of-home placement, increase peer support, and continue to upgrade care management.

“An action step included in the study wants to add telehealth to allow DHHS to offer behavioral health treatments using telehealth. “This could be accomplished by establishing a robust information system to provide for a better information exchange between providers across different systems” said, Sheri Dawson, Director of the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health.

In addition, the DHHS has received a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) System of Care Cooperative grant which will provide $3 million per year for four years to continue implementing the System of Care in Nebraska.

The System of Care program, provides a framework to integrate mental health services and supports for children and youth who have serious emotional disturbances. The System of Care improves access to a full array of coordinated community-based services.


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