Great Minds Fellowship working to expand Ohio’s behavioral health workforce

The Great Minds Fellowship provides students with career growth opportunities while helping communities in Ohio to better treat individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. This program is especially needed because of the high prevalence of mental health issues among Ohioans.

Nearly 600,000 Ohio adults suffer from serious mental illness.

Nearly 600,000 Ohio adults suffer from serious mental illness, and 2.3 million adults are estimated to suffer from any mental illness (anxiety, depression, etc.). Suicide is also extremely prevalent, and the leading cause of death for Ohioans between the ages of 10-34. An estimated 900,000 Ohioans also struggle with a substance use disorder. Demand for behavioral health services has also increased by 353% from 2013-2019, while the workforce only increased by 174%. This creates gaps in care, with 2.4 million Ohioans living in communities that are short of behavioral health professionals.

Great Minds Fellowship to boost training programs in Ohio’s colleges and universities

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) collaborated to launch a fellowship program that works to grow the number of Ohioans in behavioral workforce professions. The purpose of the program is to grow the number of high quality academic and training programs in Ohio’s universities and colleges, boost the number of qualified graduates who can enter the behavioral health workforce, and fill unmet needs for behavioral health care in community and home-based settings.

This fellowship program will be available in Ohio’s two and four-year colleges/universities to students who are within two years of graduating.

This fellowship program will be available in Ohio’s two and four-year colleges/universities to students who are within two years of graduating with degrees or certificates in social work, mental health counseling, psychiatric/mental health nursing, marriage and family therapy, and substance abuse/addiction counseling. This fellowship program fits into OhioMHAS’ Wellness Workforce priorities which aims to recruit and retain behavioral health professionals. These priorities are:

  1. Increasing career awareness: Educating Ohioans on professions, people, and opportunities leading to a successful career in behavioral health.
  2. Supporting recruitment: Offering Ohioans scholarships, paid internships, and stipends tied to post education service in the behavioral healthcare field, especially in high-need areas.
  3. Incentivizing retention: Supporting Ohio’s educators in their efforts to increase and develop capacity for advanced degrees, distance learning opportunities, and credentials. This also involves supporting employers in their abilities to offer retention bonuses and continuing training and educational opportunities.
  4. Supporting contemporary practice: Expanding support of the workforce with development and training best practices.

ARPA funds will provide support for the Great Minds Fellowship program

The Great Minds Fellowship supports work in the first three pillars of OhioMHAS’ Wellness Workforce priorities, above. In 2022, the program received approval from the Ohio General Assembly and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to invest federal ARPA funds into boosting the number of professionals in the behavioral healthcare workforce. Fellows accepted to the program will be eligible for $5,000 post-graduation retention and recruitment bonuses if they obtain employment at a Community Behavioral Health Center (CBHC). Participating colleges and universities will also provide up to $10,000 to students in their final two years of undergraduate and graduate study to assist with the cost of obtaining a degree or certificate. The Great Minds Fellowship is an important opportunity for students interested in behavioral health to pursue career growth while also supporting populations with adverse behavioral health and substance abuse in Ohio. Fundamentally, this program is an opportunity to expand Ohio’s behavioral health workforce by investing in students and to provide care to Ohioans that need it most.

Recent Developments

OMHAS recently announced the availability of the Great Minds Internship Site Support Funding. This is meant to support strategies to recruit and keep behavioral health professionals. Funding opportunities under this plan are open to eligible Community Behavioral Health Centers to supply internship site support to host Great Minds Fellows. Community Based Health Centers regulated by OhioMHAS that also provide Medicaid-covered behavioral health home and community-based services are eligible to participate in the initiative. For more information on how to apply for funding, refer to this link here.

Additional Resources

FAQ information for Colleges and Universities: GMF FAQs Updated August 2023.pdf (

FAQ Information for Behavioral Health Providers: GMF_CBCH-FAQ_080323.pdf (

Guidebook Document for Behavioral Health Centers:

Great Minds Fellowship Flyer: Great-Minds_One-Pager_071423.pdf (

Great Minds Fellowship Presentation: ODHE/OhioMHAS webinar for higher education stakeholders — July 17, 2023