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IL BHWELL HRSA Scholars Program

The Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Education, Learning & Leadership (BHWELL) HRSA Scholars Program is a clinical certificate and scholarship program at the University of Illinois (2017-2021) for MSW students who want to learn team-based models for integrating health and mental health services in primary care settings in rural and underserved areas.


semesters in field


scholarship award



Benefits to students

Each year, BHWELL scholars are selected for specialized training in advanced Integrated Behavioral Health clinical skills needed to practice on interprofessional teams in integrated primary care settings.

Integrated Behavioral Health brings MSWs and other behavioral health clinicians onto healthcare interprofessional teams and into rural health clinics, FQHCs, and critical access hospitals to address biopsychosocial needs of patients and families. Learn more from SAMHSA.

Scholars also learn and design strategies to promote rural population health and collaborate with community resource providers. Read the Health Workforce Projections fact sheet that presents the national supply of and demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers for 2013 through 2025 using HRSA’s Health Workforce Simulation Model.

BHWELL scholars receive a $10,000 scholarship distributed during their final 2-semester BHWELL-approved field placement and also earn a Certificate in Integrated Behavioral Health. Scholars are supplied with a course planning sheet that is a hybrid of the Healthcare and Mental Health focus areas that meet requirements for the Certificate program.

BHWELL Scholar Requirements

You must meet the following requirements to apply:

  • Be accepted into the MSW program and maintain good standing;
  • Apply to the BHWELL scholars program and be selected;
  • Pursue the clinical concentration; all focus areas welcome to apply!
  • BHWELL scholars must take these courses (Spring semester before field):
    • SOCW553 Integrated Behavioral Health & Health Care (4 credits)
    • SOCW515 Integrated Health Care Policy & Services (4)
    • During 2-semester field placement:
      • SOCW561 BHWELL Field Seminar (1 credit each semester);
  • Participate in two Interprofessional Ed (IPE) trainings with College of Medicine;
  • Consider taking these recommended courses: SOCW 502 (MI/SBIRT) or 505 (CBT);
  • Successfully match with a BHWELL-approved rural or underserved site (request list at;
  • Participate in online seminars during 2-semester approved BHWELL field placement, with emphasis on interprofessional, team-based, integrated health and behavioral health care;
  • Be committed to working in rural/underserved area after graduation for at least two to five years. You don’t have to live in a rural area, but we are looking for students who are passionate about serving patients and communities in rural areas. Many rural health clinics are located within 30-50 minutes from cities such as Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Danville, Springfield, Peoria, etc.

Note: FQHC are usually eligible BHWELL sites, and they are located throughout urban and rural areas.

BHWELL is funded by a four-year grant from the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded to the School of Social Work (PI, Dr. Janet Liechty).

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