Relias — a National Council Platinum Partner — provides lifelong workforce enablement solutions for more than 11,000 health care and human services organizations and 4.5 million caregivers to drive measurable outcomes. Customers use Relias solutions to attract and retain talent, elevate care quality and reduce risk with their technology, services, community and expertise.

We sat down with Nellie Galindo, MSW, MSPH, senior product marketing manager at Relias to learn more about their work, how they want to address the workforce shortage and what’s coming up.

What’s one thing in the mental health and substance use field that you think deserved more attention in 2023?

One topic that gets a lot of attention in some areas — but not as much in mental health and substance use — is the concept of social determinants of health (SDOH). Much of our physical health depends on factors within the environment and the systems we live in. The same is true of our mental health. Without substantial investment in initiatives like fighting income inequality, addressing housing affordability and increasing access to care, it’s incredibly difficult to sustainably improve mental health outcomes. The SDOH framework is a great way to conceptualize where providers may be missing opportunities to improve treatment and care.

Looking around at trends in other industries or topics, what’s one thing you think the mental health and substance use field could learn from other fields?

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has been fascinating. Across other technology companies, and here at Relias, I’ve seen a huge shift to leveraging AI to be more efficient in our workflows. I see AI being used in behavioral health and substance use organizations — for example, using AI to more accurately diagnose mental health conditions or even to support documentation and other administrative tasks. But my concern is that a fear of AI will prevent the behavioral health field from taking full advantage of the technology. Hopefully, by better understanding how AI can be used ethically, behavioral health organizations will see positive outcomes for the people they serve.

One of the greatest challenges facing the mental health and substance use field is the workforce shortage. How does Relias think about this challenge and your role in helping to address it?

Relias’ work focuses heavily on how we can invest in the development of the healthcare workforce to improve retention. We want clinicians and other frontline staff to feel competent and confident in their skill sets, and we offer our learning and performance solutions to help them accomplish this. Additionally, we want to ease the burden of maintaining regulatory compliance on administrators and leaders. If we can help them save dozens, or even hundreds, of hours of administrative work with our compliance management and learning management tools, that’s a huge win for us. Increasing confidence and reducing administrative burden are just some of the ways we hope to relieve some of the daily pressure this workforce contends with.

Tell us a story about working with the National Council in the past year that makes you proud

Several of my teammates and I had the opportunity to present at NatCon23, and it was my first time attending. I was overwhelmed with how many organizations and advocates were present, all in the name of creating more equitable access to mental health and substance use care. My colleague and I gave a presentation on Social Location, a framework for exploring one’s own social identity and proximity to privilege. It allowed me to tell my own story of social location, and how I’ve used the framework to provide better care — both in my role at Relias and when I worked in the field. I really enjoyed giving this presentation and giving NatCon attendees a tool to take back to their organizations.

What is one initiative coming up for Relias that most excites you?

We’re continuing to expand our services and product offerings, and so much of what we’re planning will be incredibly beneficial to behavioral health and substance use organizations. We have plans in 2024 to expand our managed services, which we provide to customers to help them better manage the Relias products they already have. We plan to offer grant management, training plan management, talent consulting and more. We are also launching a new suite of tools for compliance management, including a brand new policies-and-procedures tool, and regulatory management. I’m excited to see us expand into these new products to continue to support our customers, who are doing the tough work every day.

How does Relias’ relationship with the National Council advance your company goals?

We’ve always found our partnership with the National Council so valuable, especially because we share such similar missions and visions. Our mission is to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and those who care for them. Aligning ourselves with the National Council allows us to advance our customer base’s awareness of several initiatives that meet this end goal — from the launch of 988 in 2022 to promoting Mental Health First Aid training. Our relationship with the National Council also ensures that we’re meeting the needs of our customers and speaking to our markets in a way that makes sense and brings value.

If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing?

Ideally, relaxing on a beach somewhere! But if that weren’t an option? I have a background in social work and public health, and I have a genuine passion for teaching comprehensive sexual health education. I volunteer as an adolescent sexual health educator in my spare time, and I also support teaching individuals with disabilities about comprehensive sex ed. If I could do that all day, I definitely would!