Behavioral health bill approved

Lawmakers gave final approval March 27 to a bill intended to increase access to behavioral health services in Nebraska.

LB901, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, requires the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Education Center to fund five one-year doctoral-level internships within 12 months of the bill’s enactment. The number of internships will increase to 10 within 36 months.

Under the bill, interns will be placed in communities where their presence will improve access to behavioral health services for patients residing in rural and underserved areas of Nebraska.

The bill also requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to establish a mental health first aid training program. The program will:
• help the public identify, understand and respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse;
• emphasize the need to reduce the stigma of mental illness; and
• assist persons believed to be developing a mental health or substance abuse problem.

The program will be administered through the state’s behavioral health regions with instructors certified by a national authority. The department is required to measure the efficacy of the training program and report to the Legislature annually.

LB901 passed on a 43-0 vote.

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