WICHE Mental Health Program Publications

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

WICHE is closely monitoring the outbreak of “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes, which has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). To inform and facilitate your response to a rapidly changing situation, WICHE has compiled the following set of resources, which will be updated as new information becomes available.


  • WICHE Mental Health Program Annual Report Fiscal Year 2019

    This report covers the work done between July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019 by the WICHE Behavioral Health Program.


    "The past year has seen significant positive change and program growth. Our Oversight Council voted unanimously, in November, to change our name from the Mental Health to the Behavioral Health Program. After 65 years, the change reflected our growing work across the spectrum of mental health, substance use, addiction, and integration with primary care. "

    Introduction excerpt, from WICHE Behavioral Health Leadership


  • 2017-2017 WICHE Mental Health Report cover graphic

    In the six-plus decades since the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education established its Mental Health Program (MHP) in 1955, we have striven to improve the quality of behavioral healthcare throughout the West. Though some may ponder why a higher education organization focuses on behavioral health, the answer is very simple: A healthy mind is essential to learning and success across the entirety of our lifecycles.

    Our efforts support improvements in care and help build and sustain a quality behavioral health workforce. Like other programs in WICHE’s broad and deep portfolio of work, we accomplish this by promoting innovation, cooperation, resource-sharing, and sound public policy. The WICHE MHP extends the capabilities of our partners, whom we support through technical assistance, research and evaluation, and professional development. The WICHE MHP seeks to add value through collaboration.

    Our dedicated staff have been busy in 2017–18. This annual report provides you with a snapshot of our efforts across the West.

    Pages: 16 ~ Media Type: PDF ~ File Size: 1,820 KB



  • Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting: Behavioral Health Funding Study Graphic

    This study examines funding for public behavioral health services in Colorado. A key focus of the study is funding provided by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) for indigent (non-Medicaid) individuals. The study reviews the state systems for providing public behavioral health services, including the funding allocation and reimbursement methodologies utilized by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), OBH, and behavioral health service providers. Funding is analyzed in the context of the impacts of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. An in-depth examination of the clinical characteristics of the OBH indigent populations is provided in an attempt to identify any unique or distinct needs of the indigent population in an effort to inform the allocation of state funds for this population.


  • Publication cover

    In February of 2014, the Colorado Department of Human Services’s (CDHS) Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) released a request for proposals (RFP) to conduct a study of existing behavioral health resources in the state of Colorado and to project future needs. The intent of the study was to identify and assess existing state and community resources and to recommend strategic future planning, taking into account the many constituent variables associated with the changing behavioral health care system. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Mental Health Program (WICHE MHP), in partnership with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute (NRI) and Advocates for Human Potential (AHP), formed a team of Colorado and national behavioral health experts to complete this study for OBH. The Colorado OBH Needs Analysis: Current Status, Strategic Positioning, and Future Planning study began in August 2014 and concluded with the final report submission in April 2015. During this time, the project team worked on the 17 specific tasks that were part of the study.

  • Human Services Program Evaluation Publication Cover

    The term “outcome evaluation” has become one of the most popular terms among human service providers and those whose jobs it is to evaluate the impact of human service programs. State and federal legislators, state and federal officials, and private accrediting organizations rarely finish a day without bemoaning the lack of appropriate outcome evaluation data. Almost everyone in the human service field would agree that there is not sufficient information about whether or not most human service programs are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Hard copies are available for purchase by Clicking Here.


  • bhWorkforceColorado.png

    The Colorado Health Foundation and the WICHE Mental Health Program joined forces to produce The Behavioral Healthcare Workforce In Colorado: A Status Report 2010. The report details current behavioral healthcare workforce issues in Colorado and discusses how to capitalize on the existing energy and expertise in the state to develop a more coordinated and focused effort to enhance Colorado’s behavioral healthcare workforce

    Pages: 67 ~ Media Type: PDF ~ File Size: 2.94 MB
  • assessmentOfTheMentalHealthFundingMarketplace.png
    Working Paper

    The most recent data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R) indicate that rural individuals with MH problems are significantly less likely to receive any MH care for their disorder than individuals in urban and suburban areas. The NCS-R also reports that of those patients who do receive mental health care, rural patients are significantly more likely to receive general medical care only and significantly less likely to receive specialty mental health care. Because patients receiving care in the specialty mental health sector are substantially more likely to receive adequate care (45.4%) than patients receiving care in the general medical sector only (12.7%), this indicates that rural individuals are receiving poorer quality care. Reduced access to MH care in rural areas are undoubtedly due to an inadequate supply of MH specialists. Additionally, primary care (PC) providers, who provide the vast majority of MH care to persons living in rural areas, do not have the training necessary to provide evidence based psychotherapy, thus eliminating one of the primary treatment modalities for people with MH problems. The lack of MH specialists in rural areas is likely due to inadequate incentives for these specialists to practice in rural areas. Furthermore, previous research has shown that health plans are more likely to rely on demand side cost containment strategies for rural enrollees than supply side strategies. This may result in rural residents paying more out-of-pocket for mental health services. Additionally, the source of funding for MH services may differ depending on the type of mental illness.

    Pages: 21 ~ Media Type: PDF ~ File Size: 129 KB
  • alaskanCoreCompetenciesComparisonTool.png

    The Comparison Tool is an aid for reviewing curricula or other competency sets to determine the extent to which they cover the Alaskan Core Competencies for Direct Care Workers in Health & Human Services. Based on the comparisons, those curricula or competencies can then be updated to incorporate the core competencies.



  • bhIdentifyingStakeholders.png
    Working Paper

    From the WICHE Center for Rural Mental Health Research, this study investigates whether two of the multiple stakeholder groups (health plans and employer purchasers) in two delivery systems (rural and urban) economically benefit from improved depression treatment by testing whether depression care management results in: (1) a greater reduction of utilization costs in insured rural patients than their urban counterparts (health plan stakeholders), and (2) a greater reduction in work costs in employed urban patients than their rural counterparts (employer purchaser stakeholders).

    Pages: 21 ~ Media Type: PDF ~ File Size: 84 KB


  • bhIdentifyingAtRiskRural.png
    Policy Brief

    From the WICHE Center for Rural Mental Health Research, this policy brief summarizes nationally representative data on community-level risk factors associated with schizophrenia hospitalizations. It examines how socio-economic factors and the makeup of local health care systems affect the rate of schizophrenia hospitalizations. It identifies geographic areas with elevated rates. It also presents a discussion about the findings. It should be of interest to government and private health plan administrators, as well as those responsible for designing mental health delivery systems – anyone interested in creating outpatient treatment programs that may prevent costly hospitalizations.

    Pages: 2 ~ Media Type: PDF ~ File Size: 88 KB
  • bhPreventingHospitalization.png
    Policy Brief

    From the WICHE Center for Rural Mental Health Research, this study examines whether depressed rural primary care patients are more likely than urban patients to be hospitalized; it investigates whether differences in hospitalization rates can be explained by differences in the utilization of specialty outpatient care; and it looks at whether rural patients face more “insurance barriers” to outpatient care. This study should be of interest to policy makers and administrators seeking to develop better delivery systems for rural mental health services. It should also be of interest to insurers, self-insured employers and other payers seeking the most effective use of health care expenditures.



  • LINK

    Letters to the Field are informational newsletters published periodically. Topics include recent developments in the field of rural mental health as they apply to isolated "frontier" rural areas.

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