Banner image with a woman counselor with the text "Community Colleges to Offer Micro-Pathways in Behavioral Health"

Short-Term Programs Designed to Meet Workforce Demands

Feb. 22, 2024 (DENVER) — To help meet significant demands for qualified workers, Colorado community colleges will offer five “micro-credential” pathways in behavioral health this fall that teach foundational skills in mental health and substance misuse treatment.  

The programs teach basic skills and concepts within a semester or less and qualify students for entry-level positions. As part of a “stackable” pathway, the micro-credentials will build toward Associate of Applied Science degrees in mental health and social work and addiction recovery that will roll out this fall, as well as a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree in behavioral health currently under development by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). The pathways also emphasize cultural competency practices to prepare students to work with diverse populations. 

“Breaking down barriers to behavioral healthcare in Colorado is a top priority and an important part of building the workforce we need in Colorado. These training pathways will help more Coloradans get the skills they need to fill jobs in behavioral health while saving them money,” said Governor Jared Polis. 

“CCCS was ready to implement behavioral health workforce training, and additional funding enabled the colleges to offer training across the whole state,” said Mike Macklin, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and workforce development at CCCS. “We are excited to support communities in developing a skilled, diverse behavioral health workforce.”  

CCCS partnered with the Education Design Lab to map out the curriculum through their Community College Growth Engine Expansion Fund. CCCS also received $15 million through Senate Bill 22-181 and worked closely with the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to seek input from employers, Medicaid, and education providers. Knowledge and competencies taught in the micro-credential pathways qualify completers to serve as part of a care team under Medicaid reimbursement.  

“The Colorado Behavioral Health Administration is thrilled to collaborate with CCCS in advancing our shared goal of expanding the behavioral health workforce in Colorado. Introducing these micro-credentials marks a significant achievement in BHA’s ongoing commitment to strengthen and diversify the behavioral health workforce,” said Kelly Causey, Deputy Commissioner of the BHA.Acknowledging the demand for more entry-level staff within the current workforce, these groundbreaking educational opportunities are set to bolster that particular sector and build a more culturally responsive workforce overall.” 

At least seven CCCS colleges will offer one or more of the following behavioral health pathways this fall with additional colleges committing over the coming months: Behavioral Health Assistant Qualified BHA, Behavioral Health Assistant II, Behavioral Health +, Patient Navigator, and Addiction Recovery Assistant. Prospective students can find a list of available pathways by college on the CCCS website 

The new programs come as the state looks to rapidly expand training in behavioral health fields. An estimated one in five Coloradans lives with a mental health or substance use disorder, driving demand for qualified behavioral health workers. By the end of the decade, positions for behavioral health social workers are expected to grow by 17% over the decade with hundreds of annual openings, according to the 2023 Colorado Talent Pipeline report 

Colleges will offer courses through online, in-person, and hybrid formats to support a wide range of learners. For more information, visit the CCCS website.   


 About CCCS

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 113,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35+ locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college. Learn more at