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The Institute for Excellence in Behavioral Health was established this summer within the Training Resource Center at Eastern Kentucky University.

The collaborative effort between EKU and the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID) is supported by funding from DBHDID.  The Institute’s mission is to support publically-funded behavioral health providers as they implement evidence-based behavioral health services and supports, including promotion of positive well-being, prevention of mental health and substance use problems, and interventions to address mental health and substance use difficulties. The Institute’s long-term core functions will include selection and implementation support to providers, workforce development, policy and finance, partnership engagement and collaboration and research, evaluation, and data linking.  

Louis Kurtz, who has been associated with DBHDID for 22 years, has been appointed interim director of the Institute. Kurtz has 35 years of experience in community mental health services, has served as acting division director within the Division of Behavioral Health, and has significant experience in supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices for adults with serious mental illnesses. He is supported by Dr. Vestena Robbins (policy adviser to Commissioner Mary Begley) and Beth Potter, project director for the KICC Initiative. An advisory board will be established to guide the Institute in prioritizing areas of focus.

The Institute is currently hiring five full-time staff members who will serve as fidelity monitors, wraparound coaches/trainers and a training specialist. They will primarily monitor evidence-based behavioral health programs throughout the Commonwealth on behalf of DBHDID. Initial service intervention focus areas include supported employment and assertive community treatment for adults with serious mental illnesses and high-fidelity wraparound for children, youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbances. The Institute will also be supported with two EKU graduate assistants.