EWU Behavioral Health Support Specialist Certificate to Open Doors

Students earning bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields now have an option for an add-on certificate that can open doors to careers in integrated healthcare settings.

The 30-credit Behavioral Health Support Specialist certificate (BHSS), which was launched in fall 2020 and offered mainly to students earning psychology degrees, will open to other bachelor-level students in fall 2022. This includes those who are majoring in nursing, addiction studies and other areas of healthcare. (Please refer to the webpage for further information on prerequisite courses required to declare the certificate.)

The certificate bridges credentials for students who want to work in a field that typically requires a master’s degree for entry-level clinicians, says Kevin Criswell, PhD, visiting assistant professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University at Bellevue College.

Students earning Eastern’s BHSS certificate will be trained to perform lower-intensity interventions for people dealing with anxiety and depression, conditions that have become increasingly prevalent amid the stresses of the pandemic, Criswell explains. 

The students will provide services in cooperation with master and doctorate-level practitioners in integrated settings that include, but are not limited to, hospitals, clinics and primary-care settings.

The certificate, which now includes Psychology 408, Collaborative and Integrative Care in Psychology, and Psychology 409, Behavioral Health Management and Intervention, is a result of a collaborative effort with the University of Washington to alleviate a severe shortage of mental health professionals in Washington. 

Stakeholders in mental healthcare across Washington (clinic, healthcare, and other institutional leaders) are working with the state in hopes of modifying the state’s mental health model to change how jobs are categorized to allow for more bachelor-level practitioners, mirroring what has successfully been implemented in the United Kingdom, Criswell says. 

“This has worked on a national level [in the UK] and can be effectively applied here on a state level,” he says. 

To learn more, read this article on the University of Washington’s Behavioral Health Support Specialist (BHSS) Project.

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