Introduction of the Behavioral Health Technician Work Group

Photo of Tech. Sgt. Bradley Blair, CADC
U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel
By Tech. Sgt. Bradley Blair, CADC, and Mr. Pete Kelley, PMP
August 21, 2017

The Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) is pleased to announce the formation of the Behavioral Health Technician (BHT) Work Group (BHTWG). Chartered as a sub-workgroup to the Military Health System (MHS) Mental Health Work Group (MHWG), this collaborative, expert-led group will enable the MHS to gauge how BHTs are currently being used throughout the system, and more importantly, develop and implement actionable recommendations to improve the quality of care for our service members. 

Work group membership includes both clinician and technician leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Capital Region Behavioral Health, and the Marine Corps Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) program and Fleet Marine Force. The group will also invite other behavioral health leaders to share insights, provide recommendations and deliver subject matter expertise.

What are behavioral health technicians?

BHTs, also called mental health technicians, psychiatric technicians, or behavioral health specialists, support mental health services in psychiatry, psychology, social work, and substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation. These enlisted service members from the Army, Navy and Air Force attend approximately 15 weeks of formal, didactic training at the Medical Education & Training Campus (METC) in San Antonio. They learn to conduct intake interviews and individual or group counseling sessions, assist in the administration of psychological testing and brief prevention education, and manage all administrative aspects of a specialty clinic. 

How can this group help you as a clinician? 

A well-trained technician can be the difference between an organized, functional clinic and a disarrayed, overworked facility. BHTs are trained to become provider-extenders, alleviating pressure from their providers while enhancing their own clinical skills. Used properly, BHTs can triage emergent patients, promote therapeutic relationships with enlisted patients, administer psychological screening and test batteries, provide both individual and group psychoeducation, provide outreach services to operational commands, play significant roles in post-disaster mental health services, stimulate rapport with clinic staff, liaise with commands and other medical sections, and improve overall clinical efficacy and efficiency. 

The aim of the BHTWG is to disseminate best practices of BHT implementation and utilization across the services to improve patient care and clinical operations. The group will hold a kick-off meeting Oct. 2. Stay tuned for more information about the BHTWG’s work.

Are there topics you’d like to see the BHTWG address? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tech. Sgt. Bradley Blair is an Air Force mental health technician and certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor (CADC). He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Mr. Peter Kelley is a certified project management professional (PMP), with over five years of project management expertise, currently supporting DHCC’s program management processes and procedures.


The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.


Comments

  • This is a much needed group. Far to often systems to do not harness the problem solving capabilities of those on the front lines. Great move

  • We need to address the readiness of BHTs assigned to the hospital. I was talking to a BHT a couple of days ago and they stated that they had not been to the motorpool since training. They also had not been to the shooting range in forever (they do not even draw helmets if assigned to the hospital)I know we want them as force multipliers in the clinic but they also should know about fundamental Soldier duties so coming up with a balance would be great.

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