Behavioral Health Technician Work Group

soldier sitting at a desk in an office speaking to a woman
U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel

Behavioral health technicians (BHTs) — also called mental health technicians, psychiatric technicians, or behavioral health specialists — are enlisted service members who fulfill a range of tasks to support mental health providers in the Military Health System. BHTs’ specific duties vary based on clinic, supervisor, and service and can include:

  • Conducting intake interviews, mental health screenings, and test batteries
  • Performing triage of emergent patients
  • Delivering individual and group psychoeducation
  • Providing outreach services to operational commands
  • Carrying out administrative tasks
  • Supporting post-disaster mental health services

When used effectively, BHTs serve a vital role in enhancing clinic efficacy and efficiency and improving direct patient care. Learn more about the roles and training of BHTs in this Clinician’s Corner blog.

In 2017 the Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) established the Behavioral Health Technician Work Group (BHTWG) to improve patient care and clinical operations by disseminating best practices of BHT implementation and utilization across the services. Chartered as a sub-group to the Military Health System Mental Health Work Group (MHWG), the BHTWG is made up of both clinician and technician leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Capital Region Behavioral Health, the Marine Corps Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) program, and Fleet Marine Force. The group meets regularly to share knowledge, resources, and efforts to support active-duty BHTs. The BHTWG has made great strides in identifying ways to optimize technician usage and improve patient care and clinical operations.

The BHTWG is currently working on a report based on its comprehensive review of BHT training, policy, and curriculum and a visit to the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) in San Antonio, Texas. The review, site visit, and upcoming report support an ongoing study by the RAND Corporation. The BHTWG has also initiated a collaborative effort with the Uniformed Services University’s Center for Deployment Psychology (CPD) to develop a web-based continuing education training for Military Health System providers on BHT training, capacity, and optimal role integration.

Resources

The following resource is available to support BHT implementation and utilization.

Healthcare Provider’s Practice Guide for the Utilization of Behavioral Health Technicians
This guide provides clinicians with a thorough understanding of technician training and competencies and highlights technician utilization best practices and the positive impact they can have on access to care, provider workload, and quality of care for service members and their dependents.

To stay up-to-date on BHTWG activities and be notified of new resources, e-mail the work group at dha.ncr.j-9.mbx.phcoe-bhtwg@mail.mil.