Optimizing the Role of Military Behavioral Health Technicians

Navy Seaman David Vargas, left, a behavioral health technician, conducts a block design test on a patient to assess functioning of the parietal and frontal lobes at Naval Hospital Jacksonville in Florida, Feb. 1, 2017. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel

In the Military Health System (MHS), behavioral health technicians (BHTs) play an important role in supporting licensed mental health providers in evaluating and treating patients and their families. BHTs are an important part of the MHS's overall mental health workforce and receive specialized training to fulfill this role. However, their roles, and perceptions of their competencies, can vary widely.

To determine how to optimize the integration of behavioral health technicians' capabilities, the RAND Corporation conducted a survey of BHTs and mental health providers on the roles of BHTs in the Military Health System.

This study will:

  • Describe the training and role of BHTs in the MHS
  • Identify barriers and facilitators to effectively integrating BHTs into care delivery
  • Develop recommendations to improve the integration of BHT capabilities in order to improve access to and quality of mental health care provided by the MHS

This project surveyed both BHTs and mental health providers to understand how BHT skills are applied within the MHS. Understanding their current roles throughout the MHS will help identify opportunities for improvement. In this way, these surveys will provide insight into BHT training and capabilities, as well as how their roles can be maximized to provide high quality mental health care.

This survey was supported by the Department of Defense’s Behavioral Health Technician Work Group, as stated in the Letter of Support (PDF). This survey received all required human subjects and regulatory approvals. The survey Report Control Symbol (RCS) license number is DD-HA-2703 (Washington Headquarters Services).

The survey was conducted June 1 to August 3, and is now closed. We expect the study report to be available in late 2021.

The report from the first phase of this project, which explored BHT training, roles, and responsibilities, is available now at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2649.html.

2016 Military Behavioral Health Survey

Did you participate in the 2016 survey of military behavioral health providers? Thank you for your participation.

Learn More About the Results