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ODHH: About the Behavioral Health Initiative

Scope and intention

The Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) exists to close the gap in health equity for Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind citizens in Wisconsin. The BHI has prioritized the areas of behavioral and mental health services as a starting place to address overall community wellness and resiliency.

The initial efforts within the BHI project will take a three-track approach:

  • Community
  • Clinicians
  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters

The focus of the BHI is to raise awareness, equip individuals, and train clinicians and interpreters using materials and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. We will accomplish this by pooling the various resources and efforts of our stakeholders.

Where we are now

The BHI is in the initial phase of the overall project. A significant amount of work has already been completed toward this initial effort. Our first priority was to develop these webpages, which will serve as a hub of information, materials, and resources for the Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind community and those that work with them in behavioral and mental health settings.

We have also collaborated with an advisory team made up of community members, clinicians, and interpreters to create several informative videos and discussion guides for each of the three tracks. These will be available on the webpage as they are finalized.

Lastly, we have collected a variety of resources that we are in the process of sorting, verifying, and preparing to include on these webpages, and we have plans to develop a calendar that includes regional, state, and national events and trainings.

Where we are going

Phase two will include efforts to share these materials and resources broadly throughout the state. There are several other objectives for the BHI in the next two to five years that will continue to evolve.

Community track

  • Train and equip staff and community partners to use the community track curriculum around the state.
  • Complete a feasibility analysis for establishing a peer wellness and resiliency specialist system in Wisconsin.
  • Complete a needs assessment and feasibility analysis for community health and wellness resources, education, and support specifically for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind.

Clinician track

  • Distribute training materials to clinicians in Wisconsin through a partnership with the Department of Safety and Professional Services, who provides licensing for clinicians and other community partners.
  • Develop a process for connecting clinicians that specialize in serving people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind with clinicians who are not familiar with these individuals in order to support and encourage a collaborative approach to treatment.
  • Identify pathways and support for clinicians who are also Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind to complete necessary supervision requirements for licensing.
  • Create a specialized support network for Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind clinicians specifically for ongoing supervision and case conferencing.

Interpreter track

  • Partner with interpreter training programs and other community stakeholders to offer facilitated interpreter training using the curriculum that was developed for the BHI.
  • Collaborate with mental health interpreter training programs to make a pathway for more specialized mental health training. This effort will specifically support the Wisconsin sign language interpreter licensure requirement that begins in 2023 for interpreters working in mental and behavioral health settings.
  • Collaborate with various partners to further develop practicum offerings in Wisconsin for interpreters seeking specialized mental health training.
  • Develop a case conferencing structure for interpreters in Wisconsin.
  • Partner with the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) to build and administer advanced mental health training topics for interpreters in Wisconsin.
Last revised May 25, 2023