Behavioral Health Initiative

The Behavioral Health Initiative focus areas were developed by a group of behavioral health and higher education stakeholders convened by the Higher Education Policy Commission in 2018-2019.  A Behavioral Health Initiative white paper conceptualizes a comprehensive, statewide behavioral health workforce framework, including potential legislative strategies.

The Behavioral Health Initiative asserts that the model used for the Rural Health Initiative for primary care workforce development could translate well for behavioral health workforce development. This proposal focuses on careers in advanced practice social work, psychology, school psychology, and counseling, selected because they are among the most critical for West Virginia’s behavioral health workforce success and are lacking coordinated workforce development support and funding.

Through the leadership of the Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia has actively sought and received significant federal grant funding to support and improve the state’s behavioral health infrastructure. Funding also has been secured from philanthropy and other private entities. Some of these awards have included support for behavioral health workforce development, however, West Virginia still lacks a consistent supply of funding focused solely on behavioral health workforce development, which impedes its ability to advance dedicated and continual resources towards issues faced in communities across the state.

Modeling from successful programs in other states and expanding on existing work in West Virginia, the Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative suggests the following focus areas:

  1. Promoting careers in behavioral health
  2. High school pipeline programming
  3. College pipeline programming
  4. Enrichment activities and support for master’s/doctoral-level trainees
  5. Career development and skills enhancement for the existing workforce
  6. Improving trainees’ access to clinical supervisors
  7. Incentivizing careers in Behavioral Health
  8. Attainment of specialized addiction credentials


For more information on the Behavioral Health Initiative, contact

Summary of Behavioral Health Initiative white paper

Full text of Behavioral Health Initiative white paper


Workforce Initiative Projects

After the Behavioral Health Initiative whitepaper was released in early 2019, six behavioral health training programs at WV institutions of higher education received funds from the Division of Health Sciences through a Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation grant to complete pilot projects directed at increasing the number of  professionals holding clinical credentials. Intended outcomes for the project included improved communication and information sharing among behavioral health training programs and an increase in the state’s demonstrable evidence base regarding what strategies are more impactful in helping behavioral health trainees achieve clinical credentials and what strategies have less influence.


Project Topics and Materials

Institution Department Project Overview                                   Links
Concord University Social Work Create the WV CLaPP (West Virginia Clinical Licensure and Preservice Program) to provide career development skills to the existing social work workforce and improve trainees' access to clinical supervisors. It will provide access to an online HIPAA compliant teleconferencing technology for clinical supervision, a six hour preservice supervisor training course, and deliver outreach to existing licensed social workers.
Davis and Elkins College Psychology Create two 1 credit-hour courses to prepare students for graduate studies in behavioral health professions; create a Graduate Studies Preparatory Station with materials to help students explore graduate pathways to behavioral health careers; create a 3-hour credit course on "Career Pathways in Behavioral Health."
Fairmont State University Behavioral Sciences Partner with 8-10 social service agencies to provide presentations (mission of the agency, work in the community, level of service need, and career information and guidance); Partner with agencies to provide Clinical Practicum for undergraduate students; host a Clinical Showcase and Social Service Forum to inform students about behavioral health careers.
Marshall University and West Liberty University Psychology Develop a 12 session training for Rural Health Practice and Treatment/ Prevention of Substance Use Disorder; provide test prep materials and support for EPPP exam.
Marshall University Psychology,
Social Work,
School Psychology
Develop behavioral health career path materials to distribute to high school counselors, dual credit behavioral health teachers, Career Centers and recruitment programs; utilize Speaker's Bureau to organize talks at High School Career Fairs; recruit behavioral health majors to join Ambassador program to talk to high school students about behavioral health education and career opportunities.
West Virginia University Social Work Provide student stipends for 10 clinical social work internships in behavioral health settings; Provide information and exam prep materials for social work licensure candidates.