Janet Liechty

Janet Liechty

Primary Affiliation : Co-Lead, Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health Working Group; Equity, Justice, and Human Flourishing Working Group; COVID-19 Task Force

School of Social Work | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Skill Highlights

Creates Visionary, Data-Driven Solutions

Educates Next Generation Caretakers

Uncover Pathways of Resilience

Learns from Patients, Students, Communities and Stakeholders

Evidence-Guided Interventions to Promote Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle

Featured Work

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Awarded a second 4-year integrated behavioral health training grant of $1.9m from Health Resources and Services Administration to continue expansion of behavioral health workforce in high-need, high-demand mental health shortage areas in Illinois.
Presented oral and written testimony to the House Mental Health Committee Subject Matter Hearing on HB3501 in Springfield, IL. SB 1979 (same as HB 3501) introduced, passed through committee. HB 0158 omnibus bill “Health care and Human Services Reform” passed both chambers and included the exact language of SB1979 (thanks to the Black Caucus, which included it among its 4 pillars). Gov. Pritzker signed HB0158 into law, PA 102-0004.
Served on Behavioral Health Workforce Education Center Task Force
Awarded a 4-year integrated behavioral health training grant of $1.9m from Health Resources and Services Administration to expand behavioral health into primary care in rural and under-served areas of Illinois.
Awarded 6 year Health Education and Learning training grant to train social work students in healthcare policy-practice integration and Affordable Care Act implementation. Worked with students to plan and deliver three policy-practice conferences on the opioid crisis (2018), young adult health across the lifespan (2019), and cannabis law changes (2020).



Professor Liechty’s research explores social determinants of health and the intersections of health and behavioral health, including obesity, disordered eating, body image, health literacy, and healthy lifestyle behavior change. A second area of interest is in behavioral health workforce, professional development and burnout prevention, and inter-professional education of health professionals to enhance team-based care, cultural humility, family systems awareness, and the integration of behavioral and primary health care. Professor Liechty is the Principal Investigator on two 4-year federal grants for Behavioral Health Workforce Training (3.8 million from 2017-2025) from the Healthcare Resources Services Administration (HRSA). She is also the PI on Social Work HEALS: Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars Program (2015-2021), funded through the National Association of Social Workers and the Council on Social Work Education. She is a Co-PI on the EMPOWER weight loss clinical trial in Urbana.

Professor Liechty completed post-MSW clinical training in family systems theory and therapy, mindfulness, gestalt therapy, and neuro-linguistic programming and worked more than a decade as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and medical social worker in the Washington, DC area, assisting persons with chronic illness, neurological disorders, eating disorders, and physical disabilities. She holds joint appointments with the School of Social Work, the Illinois College of Medicine Urbana, Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. She co-leads the IGPA Working Group on Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health.

Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois System

Collaborating Scholar, 2021 to Present.

Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Inaugural Faculty Member, 2017 to Present.

Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL 

Faculty, 2017 to Present.

Family Resiliency Center, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Faculty, 2016 to Present. 

School of Social Work and Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Associate Professor, 2014 to Present.

School of Social Work and Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Assistant Professor, 2007 – 2014. 


University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland; Ph.D., 2007. 

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland; M.S.W., 1990. 

Goshen College, Goshen, IN; B.A. in Social Work and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL Teaching Certificate), 1986.


Poverty Simulation

Each July, Professor Liechty involves 100+ health profession students in a poverty simulation and case study to build empathy and learn about social determinants of health, community resources, and family resilience in the face of poverty.

Rural Resilience

Through two federal grants, Professor Liechty seeks to learn from rural partners and data; to better understand the mental health needs, economic challenges, strengths, and resources among rural residents in the heartland; and to train a behavioral health workforce to recognize and augment this resilient, bright future.

Interprofessional Education

Professor Liechty brings together health professionals and students from social work, medicine, nursing, nutrition, and public health to learn as teams to improve patient care.

Interdisciplinary Research

Most of Professor Liechty’s research is team-based across many disciplines to tackle big challenges like improving access to mental health care, developing holistic interventions to increase healthy lifestyle, and helping prevent child obesity.

Student-Faculty Partnerships

Professor Liechty seeks to design transformative learning experiences with her students to inspire and unleash passion for discovery and life-long learning. She partners with students as collaborators to create policy conferences, symposia, patient education modules, and publications.

Social Justice & Diversity

Whether in teaching, research, or community engagement, Professor Liechty practices self-examination, checks assumptions, aims to correct biases, assesses the impact of power and privilege, celebrates diversity, and seeks to listen and learn from marginalized voices and from those with experiences different from her own.

Recent Publications

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2015-16, 2020-2021 Teachers Ranked Excellent by Students, University of Illinois, Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning
2018 Mentor Recognition Award from the CSWE Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education
2015 Team Award for Excellence, Awarded to STRONG Kids/I-TOPP Transdisciplinary Team, College of ACES, University of Illinois
2015 Mentor Recognition Award from the CSWE Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education