Showcasing our capabilities

Highlighted here is a selection of projects the WICHE Behavioral Health Program (BHP) has undertaken in recent years that, in addition to our current projects, showcase distinct service areas, expertises, and ways in which our staff assist partners.


Mental Health First Aid for College Students: The BHP implemented a multi-campus randomized control trial to estimate the effects of a peer-based mental health education intervention on help-seeking behavior and related attitudes and knowledge among college students.

Frontier Mental Health Resource Network: Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this technical assistance center focused workforce-development activities for personnel serving isolated rural populations through coordinated workshops, conference presentations, and knowledge-synthesis papers in a “Letters to the Field” format.

Cultural Competence Core Standards: The BHP worked with four racial/ethnic panels (Asian and Pacific Islander, African American, Latino, and American Indian & Alaska Native) to develop ethnicity-specific cultural competence standards and guidelines for managed behavioral health services to be implemented nationwide.

Behavioral Health Population Needs Assessment: The BHP’s Western States Decision Support Group has provided technical assistance to assist states in developing the capacity to estimate the need for services, allowing states to aggregate data for more powerful analyses.

WICHE Center for Rural Mental Health Research: The WICHE Center for Rural Mental Health Research was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop and disseminate scientific knowledge that can be readily applied to improve the use, quality, and outcomes of mental health care provided to rural populations.

Military/Veteran and Mental Health First Aid: The BHP partnered with the Citizen Soldier Support Program (with support from the U.S. Department of Defense) to enhance and grow nationally the capacity of community-based providers to meet the behavioral health needs of veterans and their families.  In 2013, BHP tested the military Mental Health First Aid program in a U.S. Department of Army-funded study with the Kansas Army National Guard to study the effectiveness of mental health first aid on reducing stigma and increasing help-giving behavior for soldiers.


Alaska Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative: The BHP partnered with WICHE’s Programs and Services Unit and eight Western universities to create the Western Consortium for Rural Social Work. The consortium works to increase the number of M.S.W. and Ph.D.-prepared social workers committed to working in rural communities or as faculty members preparing students to serve rural clients.


Colorado Population in Need Study: The BHP provided technical assistance to the State of Colorado for assessing mental health services needs in various regions of the state. Activities included operationalizing the target population, reviewing needs for estimates by geographic area and demographic variables, developing synthetic estimates, calculating the utilization of services, and estimating unmet needs for services.

School-Based Behavioral Health Advocacy Toolkit: Funded by Mental Health Colorado and developed based on research and best practices, the toolkit helps advocates improve school-based mental health and substance misuse services.

Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Rural Primary Care: With funding from the Colorado’s Suicide Prevention Commission, the BHP provided a tailored toolkit and training programs for Colorado primary care providers.

Colorado Behavioral Health Funding Study: The Colorado Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting contracted BHP to lead a study of behavioral health funding in Colorado. The study involved state agencies and culminated in recommendations on how Colorado could strengthen funding for indigent clients, and align funding in the behavioral health system to best support identified behavioral health care needs and capacity across the state.

Colorado System of Care Study Design: The BHP developed methodology, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, to assess the community-based services array for young Colorado residents with behavioral health challenges.


Early Intervention Services Rate and Salary Study: In partnership with a state department of health division, the BHP analyzed differences in reimbursement rates paid by peer-state agencies across the state for disciplines including occupational therapy and speech therapy.


Idaho System Improvement for Transformation: The BHP provided technical assistance to the State of Idaho to develop and submit a Mental Health System Improvement Grant (MH-SIG). In 2009, BHP’s comprehensive study of the public behavioral health system served as the foundation planning document for both legislative action and executive order for the funding and delivery of a major system-reform effort in Idaho.