What is it about?

Behavioral health support specialists (BHSSs) are one workforce solution to improving access to team based mental and behavioral healthcare. A BHSS holds a four-year degree in psychology, social work or a related degree program with specific training in evidence informed interventions for depression, anxiety and other common behavioral health conditions. Washington State is pioneering this work including legislation passed in 2023 to credential a BHSS. Developing such a workforce aims to strengthen capacity for improving both the quality and quantity of care especially for under-resourced and rural communities.

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Why is it important?

The University of Washington Behavioral Health Support Specialist Clinical Training program may be integrated into an existing qualified four-year degree program with the goal of scaling the BHSS role for the entire state.


There is tremendous potential to increase behavioral health workforce across many sectors of care including, but not limited to crisis response, integrated care and specialty mental health services.

Dr. William P. O'Connell
University of Washington

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Behavioral Health Workforce Development in Washington State: Addition of a Behavioral Health Support Specialist, Psychiatric Services, April 2024, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.20230312.
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