Co-creation at the center of the Ballmer Institute’s efforts to launch a new profession

The Ballmer Institute is establishing a new bachelor's level mental health profession, the child behavioral health specialist. This innovative program borrows from international models of healthcare that demonstrate that, with targeted training and supervision, increasing the behavioral health workforce at the bachelor’s level is not only possible, but can rapidly expand access to high-quality behavioral health care.

While there is much promise for this workforce innovation, establishing a new profession that is sustainable and responsive to the needs of the community requires that community stakeholders have a direct role in developing this new training program and profession. Incoming Executive Director Dr. Katie McLaughlin has been building a foundation for meaningful and sustained community engagement with the Ballmer Institute before she officially begins her role on August 31, 2023.  

Dr. McLaughlin has appointed Dr. Atika Khurana as the Director of Community Engagement beginning July 1. Dr. Khurana is Professor of Counseling Psychology, Family and Human Services, and Prevention Science at the College of Education at the University of Oregon. The Ballmer Institue is fortunate to benefit from Dr. Khurana’s leadership in community engagement, experience building and sustaining school partnerships, and commitment to reducing disparities in behavioral health for youth from underserved communities.

The Ballmer Institute has been awarded a $50,000 Health Care Workforce funding grant from the Cambia Health Foundation to support community engagement efforts. These funds will support the development of community advisory boards, promote recruitment and retention of stakeholders as board members, and mitigate barriers to participation for community members interested in serving in an advisory capacity.

“It is essential to our success that our training model is co-created with community stakeholders including parents, youth, educators, mental health professionals, and individuals with lived experience with behavioral health challenges,” said Dr. Katie McLaughlin, incoming Executive Director for the Ballmer Institute.

Drs. Khurana and McLaughlin will spend this summer designing structures to allow for meaningful and sustained engagement of community stakeholders, including community advisory boards. If you are interested in learning when the nomination process to become a board member opens, please complete the following form: Ballmer Institute Nomination Notification.

More information about the Ballmer Institute can be found on our website.