About $3 million in ARPA grants newly awarded to bolster Nebraska’s behavioral health services

By: - June 29, 2023 1:18 pm

Members of a U.S. Senate committee detailed a complicated patchwork of issues that contribute to youth mental health challenges, including violence and trauma within schools and communities, the damaging effects of social media. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

OMAHA — More than $3 million in federal pandemic relief funding is to be awarded to 27 projects across Nebraska to develop, expand and train behavioral health workers.

The grants are the second and final cycle of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to be distributed by the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska. They follow the nearly $20 million in ARPA funds the center awarded to 83 projects in January.

Dr. Marley Doyle, director of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (Courtesy of University of Nebraska Medical Center)

This final round means the center has now allocated all of the ARPA funds that the Nebraska Legislature charged it with distributing to address the impact of the pandemic and need for workers in that area, according to a statement from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

For round two, the center received 150 applications requesting more than $25 million across four categories.

“We are excited to support these amazing projects that will help address our state’s critical shortage of behavioral health workers,” said Dr. Marley Doyle, director of BHECN. 

Doyle said the center was overwhelmed by the number of applications received which, she said, highlights the need for behavioral health services in the state.

About 40% of the projects selected in the latest round are based in rural parts of the state, while the other 60% are to be led by organizations in urban areas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic particularly exacerbated behavioral health workforce issues in rural Nebraska and we are grateful to be able to provide needed support to organizations looking to address these vital issues,” Doyle said.

Jessica Buche, ARPA award director for the Behavioral Health Education Center (Courtesy of University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Jessica Buche, the center’s ARPA award director, said that the BHECN is providing training and assistance to awardees that have limited experience in grants.

The BHECN was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2009, through the passage of Legislative Bill 603, to address the shortage of behavioral health care workers. The center’s mission is to recruit, retain and increase competency of that workforce within the state.

The 27 second-round grants were divided into four categories:

Behavioral health training and education opportunities:

Completely Kids, Omaha, $71,000

Mary Lanning Healthcare, Hastings, $58,000

Mid-Plains Center for Behavioral Healthcare Services, Grand Island, $55,000

CenterPointe, Lincoln, $72,000

AM Counseling and Consulting, Bellevue, $72,000

Siena Francis House, Omaha, $72,000

Telebehavioral health in rural areas: 

Silver Sun Mental Health, dba Nebraska Mental Health Centers, Lincoln, $13,911

Banisters Leadership Academy, Omaha, $500,000

CEDARS Youth Services, Lincoln, $114,965

Health Center Association of Nebraska, Omaha, $800,000

Boone County Health Center, Albion, $44,199

Pender Community Hospital District, Pender,  $556,326

Compass, Kearney,  $145,645

For All Counseling Services, Omaha,  $24,952

Behavioral health workforce COVID-19 projects:

Silver Sun Mental Health, dba Nebraska Mental Health Centers, Lincoln, $50,000

Options in Psychology, Scottsbluff, $20,000

University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha $50,000

Midtown Health Center, Norfolk, $19,898

University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, $50,000

Heartland Counseling Services, South Sioux City, $50,000

UNMC Wellness Center, Omaha, $50,000

Lincoln Medical Education Partnership, Lincoln, $10,000

Heartland Family Service, Omaha, $50,000

Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers, Omaha, $50,000

Funding for supervision of provisionally licensed providers:

Inspirit Counseling, PC, Chadron, $100,000

Mid-Plains Center for Behavioral Healthcare Services, Grand Island, $100,000

Cirrus House, Scottsbluff, $100,000


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.