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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 and 2021-2025) for MSW students who want to learn team-based models for integrating health and mental health services in high need, high demand areas throughout Illinois, including rural, small urban, and large urban 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 health and mental health settings.

Integrated Behavioral Health brings MSWs and other behavioral health clinicians onto healthcare interprofessional teams in settings such as primary care clinics, hospitals, FQHCs, critical access hospitals, and mental health to address biopsychosocial needs of patients and families.

Learn more about Integrated Behavioral Health from HRSA

Learn more from SAMHSA

Scholars also learn evidence-based interventions and strategies to promote health and well-being among rural or urban underserved areas and populations, including violence prevention, trauma-informed care, brief therapies, digital health literacy, and tele-behavioral health. Scholars learn to collaborate with other health professions and community resource providers to improve quality of care for persons with co-occurring health and behavioral health conditions.

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.

The Behavioral Health Workforce Projections Report from HRSA presents the national supply and demand for mental health and substance use disorder Social Workers 2017-2030 based on HRSA’s health workforce modeling tools.

BHWELL Scholar Requirements

You must meet the following requirements to apply to be a BHWELL Scholar:

  • Be accepted into the MSW program and maintain good academic standing;
  • Apply to the BHWELL scholars program and be provisionally accepted;
  • Pursue the Clinical Concentration; all focus areas may apply if course requirements below are met.
  • BHWELL 2017-2021 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);
  • BHWELL 2.0 (2021-2025) scholars must take these advanced courses (Spring semester)*:
    • SOCW553 Integrated Behavioral Health & Health Care
    • SOCW561 BHWELL Clinical Skills Workshop (2-credits, under development)
    • SOCW561 BHWELL Field Seminar (1 credit taken each semester of field placement).
  • Participate in two BHWELL-sponsored Interprofessional Ed (IPE) trainings with other health professions from the College of Medicine or Nursing.
  • Consider these recommended courses: SOCW 502 (MI/SBIRT), 561 (Violence Prevention), or 561 (Tele-behavioral health), or 505 (CBT).
  • Successfully match with a BHWELL-approved field site (request list in early Fall at
  • Complete two semesters of field placement (if Advanced Standing, please contact the IL-BHWELL office regarding a tuition waiver for the second “extra” semester of training).
  • Participate in BHWELL program evaluation and annual surveys for three years post-graduation.

Be committed to working in or with  an underserved urban or rural area or population after graduation for at least one year. All BHWELL-approved field sites meet this criterion, as do the vast majority of MSW graduates.

*Stay tuned for an update on course requirements for BHWELL 2.0 starting in AY 2021-2022; updated requirements will be finalized no later than 8/15/2021.

Funding Acknowledgement: The BHWELL(2017-2021) and BHWELL (2021-2025) projects are funded by two sequential four-year grants from the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded to the School of Social Work (PI, Dr. Janet Liechty, HRSA #M01HP31357)

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