Frequently Asked Questions about the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program

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Q: What is the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program?

A: The work of the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Program at CalSWEC focuses on education and training, evaluation, and community collaboration efforts related to behavioral health care workforce development in California. Its mission is to develop and support a professional workforce of skilled, diverse, and culturally competent social workers to meet the critical demand within California’s public behavioral health care system.  

To accomplish this, the IBH Program provides support for and partners with graduate programs of social work, behavioral health care service providers, peer support and advocacy organizations, and state and local policy makers working to address Californians’ behavioral health care needs. The IBH Program seeks to expand its work with organizations focused on a broad spectrum of behavioral health care issues, including substance abuse care and the integration of behavioral health and primary health care, with the goal of developing a skilled social work workforce prepared to effectively addressing consumers’ behavioral health care needs in integrated service settings.

Q: What is the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Stipend Program?

A: Modeled after CalSWEC’s successful Title IV-E Stipend Program for prospective public child welfare social workers, the MHSA Stipend Program is a training program for MSW students committed to working in California’s public mental/behavioral health care system after graduation. The MHSA Stipend Program is funded through MHSA Workforce Education and Training funds and administered by California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development (OSHPD). The program’s mission is to develop a workforce of professionally trained and culturally competent social workers who can meet the personnel needs of California’s public behavioral health care system.  

The program supports statewide efforts to (1) develop curricula and methods of teaching that appropriately integrate theory and practice, embody collaborative models, and promote the values of wellness, recovery, and resilience as expressed in the Mental Health Services Act; (2) increase the employment of behavioral health care consumers and their family members in the public behavioral health care system; (3) create a culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse public behavioral health workforce in which competency in identified skills and practices is integrated with cultural competence and humility; and (4) increase access to graduate social work education and careers in behavioral health for individuals in counties with demonstrated workforce shortages and a lack of historical representation in educational stipend programs.

Q: How does the MHSA Stipend Program work?

A: The MHSA Stipend Program funds over 150 stipends to MSW students each year through an interagency agreement with the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) and sub-awards to 19 accredited MSW programs. These partnerships enable CalSWEC to distribute stipends throughout California to students in two-year full-time, three-year part-time, and distance learning-based MSW programs. 

Participating MSW programs orient stipend recipients to program expectations and guidelines and deliver all program-specific education and training through academic coursework, stipend seminars, and the facilitation and supervision of stipend recipients' field placements and field instruction. To fulfill the stipend-associated service obligation, recipients must (1) complete an advanced MSW field placement in an eligible county-operated or county-contracted behavioral health agency, specific course work and stipend seminars, and specialized field instruction before graduation, and (2) fulfill a service obligation through one calendar year’s work at an eligible county-operated or county-contracted behavioral health agency after graduation.

Q: What is the application process for the MHSA Stipend Program?

A: MSW programs participating in the MHSA Stipend Program recruit and select stipend recipients on their campuses, in consultation with CalSWEC and public behavioral health agencies and advocates. MHSA stipends are awarded through competitive application processes to recipients who express commitment to working in California's public behavioral health care system after graduation. The following 19 accredited graduate programs in social work and social welfare participate in the MHSA Stipend Program. Individuals interested in applying for admission to, or applying for the MHSA stipend through, any of these programs should contact the programs directly.

California State University, Bakersfield

California State University, San Marcos

California State University, Chico

California State University, Stanislaus

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Humboldt State University

California State University, East Bay

Loma Linda University

California State University, Fullerton

San Diego State University

California State University, Long Beach

San Francisco State University

California State University, Los Angeles

University of California, Berkeley

California State University, Monterey Bay

University of California, Los Angeles

California State University, Northridge

University of Southern California

California State University, San Bernardino

Q: What is the timeline of CalSWEC’s efforts in the mental/behavioral health care field? 

A: See the timeline, below:

1992—Under CalSWEC’s leadership, faculty from schools of social work and professionals from county mental health agencies throughout California embark on a collaborative effort to build workforce development programs focused on social work practice in the public mental health system. Lack of funding and infrastructural support delays this project for some time.

2003—CalSWEC renews these efforts through a strategic plan developed in collaboration with leaders in higher education and service delivery, and state policymakers.

2004—Californians pass the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), also known as the “Millionaire’s tax,” which adds 1% to the income tax rate of state residents whose personal income exceeds $1 million dollars annually and directs the funds collected into public mental health care.

2005—The MHSA is enacted and includes the creation of a Workforce, Education, and Training (WET) component intended to fund workforce development programs for the public mental health system.

2005–2006 academic year—CalSWEC introduces its Mental Health Program (MHP), a training and stipend program for MSW students committed to working in California’s public mental/behavioral health care system. The stipend program is funded through MHSA WET dollars and administered by the California Department of Mental Health. CalSWEC’s MHP coordinates the first MHSA stipends and specialized training for MSW students at 10 partner schools; more MSW programs join in subsequent years.

2012—The California Department of Mental Health is dissolved as part of the transition to county oversight of public mental/behavioral health care. Administration of the MHSA stipend program and other WET programs is transferred to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).

2014—OSHPD both significantly reduces funding for the MSW stipend program and initiates a competitive bidding process for the program contract, through which CalSWEC secures a multi-year contract.

2016—CalSWEC secures another multi-year contract with OSHPD through a competitive bidding process. CalSWEC’s Mental Health Program becomes the Integrated Behavioral Health Program, reflecting CalSWEC’s commitment to the integration of all its current and future areas of focus and its aspirational goals to serve the workforce development needs of California’s public behavioral health care system in more diverse and innovative ways.

2017—The IBH Program coordinates the MHSA Stipend Program, leads evaluation work for the HRSA-funded Latinx Center of Excellence at Berkeley Social Welfare, and is preparing to lead a regional stipend and training program for MSW students interested in providing behavioral health care within integrated primary care settings.

Revised September 7, 2017