Behavioral Health Aide Program
(907) 729-2431

Alaska Behavioral Health Aide Program

The Behavioral Health Aide (BHA) Program promotes behavioral health and wellness in Alaska Native individuals, families, and communities through culturally relevant training and education for village-based counselors.

We all know that good physical health is important to a healthy, happy life. Mental, emotional and social health and wellbeing are equally vital, yet often ignored or misunderstood. The BHA Program at ANTHC offers technical assistance to Tribal partners so they can implement the BHA program in a way that meets their unique organizational and community needs and priorities. The BHA Program also works with partners across the state to increase access to BHA training, develop resources to guide BHA clinical practice and support all BHAs in their goal to be certified by the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board (CHAPCB).

What is a Behavioral Health Aide/ Practitioner (BHA/P)?

A Behavioral Health Aide is a village-based counselor, health educator, and advocate who is trained to work with community members to address behavioral health topics that affect individuals, families or whole communities.

Using a holistic approach to wellbeing, BHAs apply their knowledge, skills and training to address the unique social and cultural needs of their communities. They support clients dealing with issues such as grief, depression, domestic violence, suicide, trauma and substance use. 

The actual duties of a BHA will vary based on location, community needs and organizational priorities. The BHA scope of practice may include a range of services, including:

  • Wellness promotion
  • Community education and prevention
  • Case management and referrals.
  • Substance use assessment and treatment
  • Recovery aftercare teaching life skills and healthy coping strategies
  • Crisis Management

Why is a BHA/Ps work important?

BHAs are employed by regional Tribal Health Organizations. They are a valuable part of the continuum of care for community members needing behavioral health resources and services. Being located in the community means that the BHA is familiar with the local culture and traditions and can provide services using a combination of traditional and Western models of care. BHAs often identify people early in their behavioral health struggles; they provide direct services so clients can receive care within their community and with the support of their loved ones. If needed, BHAs make referrals and coordinate services for a higher level of care outside of the community. They also provide aftercare to ensure that clients have continued access to care when they return home.

How are BHA/Ps improving the health of Alaska Native people?

BHA/Ps are improving the health of Alaska Native people by reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for behavioral health problems. BHA/Ps build positive relationships with community members through education and outreach. They increase awareness of how mental health and substance use problems develop and where to find resources when help is needed. BHA/Ps create a supportive space to have conversations about behavioral health concerns.  They are a trusted and established entity in the community when a behavioral health crisis emerges that requires a formal treatment relationship with the regional health organization.

Behavioral Health Aide Training Center

The ANTHC BHA Training Center is authorized by the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board (CHAPCB) to provide training for Behavioral Health Aide/Practitioners (BHA/Ps). The goal in providing training is guided by the following three priorities:

Comprehensive Training – a library of culturally relevant courses built specifically to meet the requirements of the Specialized Training Track for certification at the BHA I and BHA II levels and all courses on the Alternative Training Track for certification at the BHA I, II, III and Practitioner levels.

Accessible – most classes are offered via distance learning using self-paced, instructor led or a combination of formats. Some classes are provided in-person only. The Training Center uses a quarter system and courses are offered on a rotating schedule.

Competency-based – courses are designed to meet the BHA curriculum requirements, develop practical skills and core competencies and target reimbursable skills.

BHA/P Training and Certification

The BHA scope of practice is defined by four levels of BHA/P certification (BHA I, II, III, Practitioner). Each level builds upon the skills and abilities of the previous level and expands the services they can provide across the continuum of care. Regional tribal health organizations identify the level and variety of services that will meet the needs of their communities and sponsor BHA/Ps to become trained and certified at a level that aligns with their needs.

BHA/Ps may use prior training in the field to start the process of certification, or they may enter the field with no prior experience and enroll in the BHA-TC to obtain the necessary training. Regardless of their training history, all BHA/Ps must demonstrate that their training meets the curriculum requirements set forth by the Certification Board. The curriculum teaches BHA/Ps to understand, assess and address mental health and substance use concerns using a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

To become certified by the federally recognized Community Health Aide Program Certification Board, BHAs must complete a series of courses, a clinically supervised 100-hour practicum for each level of certification and a minimum number of work experience hours in their position. Additionally, BHAs must demonstrate that they have specific knowledge, skills and abilities to provide quality services within their scope of practice. For questions about the BHA Program, email To learn more about the Behavioral Health Aide Training Center and other certification resources, visit:

Code for BHA courses: Creative Commons License
Behavioral Health Aide courses by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.