Through an interagency agreement with the Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development (OSHPD), the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program provides funding for the MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) Stipend Program for MSW students at California schools of social work who are planning careers in the behavioral health system. The program also supports related academic and administrative activities.
History and Background
In 1992, under CalSWEC's auspices, faculty from schools of social work and professionals from county mental health agencies throughout California embarked on a collaborative project to develop a program modeled on the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program. This program would prepare MSW-level students to meet the critical demand for a diverse, skilled social work workforce for the public mental health service arena.
While strong support existed among CalSWEC's Board of Directors, practitioners, and policymakers for the concept, a lack of funding streams and infrastructure support put the project in abeyance for a time.
CalSWEC's Mental Health Initiative began in 2003, stemming from a strategic plan to broaden CalSWEC's scope to address workforce development for mental health and aging services. Faculty, county mental health directors, and practitioners collaboratively developed a set of competencies approved in 2005 and updated in 2011. The passage of the Mental Health Services Act in 2004 created the opportunity to provide stipends and effectively implement new curricula focused on recovery-oriented principles and practice.
Goals and Objectives
The mission of the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program is to develop a workforce of professionally trained and culturally competent social workers that meets the personnel needs of California’s public mental health system. Under the 2014-17 contract with OSHPD, the program is intended to:
- Support efforts to develop curricula and methods of teaching that appropriately integrate theory and practice, and promote the values of wellness, recovery and resilience as expressed in the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA);
- Support efforts to increase consumer and family member employment in the public mental health workforce; and
- Support efforts to contribute to a diverse, culturally sensitive, and competent public mental health workforce.
The IBH program provides schools with curriculum development tools and technical assistance for implementation. It requires that each school implement an adaptable curriculum to teach recovery-oriented competencies for mental/behavioral health careers in the public sector.
Each school addresses the curriculum competencies in academic and field education through:
- specialized seminars,
- incorporation of competencies into foundation and advanced social work courses,
- tailored field work experiences, and
- modules that have been specifically written for the program.
Evaluation mechanisms ensure that the program is progressing toward the goal of preparing a diverse social work workforce for a rapidly changing, recovery-oriented system.
MSW students are selected by each school to receive a stipend in an advanced year of their studies. Each student completes specialized courses and a field placement in a county-operated or contract community-based mental/behavioral health agency. Students may receive a total of $18,500 if enrolled full-time, or $9,250 if enrolled part-time. A student who receives a full-time stipend has a payback obligation to work for one calendar year in a county-operated or contract community-based mental/behavioral health agency following graduation; a part-time student must complete six calendar months of employment.
Since the first class of 2005-06, nearly 2,000 students have received MHSA stipends through the IBH Program. Graduates live throughout California, are ethnically diverse, and many speak at least one other language in addition to English.
Nineteen schools of social work across California currently participate in the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program.