BHWET-PRO 2021 Grant

Project Abstract: Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) for Professionals 2021

Plymouth State University’s (PSU) master’s and EdS level training programs for clinical mental health counselors, school counselors, and school psychologists together as an interdisciplinary team intend to expand the behavioral health workforce in high need areas, including rural and medically underserved areas, in order to better serve individuals across the lifespan who have developed or are at risk for developing a behavioral health disorder. PSU is submitting one application under “Competing Continuations” for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program for Professionals for the amount of $1,920,000 for the four-year grant period. We are requesting a funding preference for Qualification 1. Fifty percent of the school psychology graduates for Academic Years (AY) 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 are employed in medically underserved communities.

Research shows additional behavioral health and substance abuse services are needed in NH. The four-year grant from HRSA would allow the University’s professional counseling and school psychology programs to recruit more students by offering them stipends during their internships. The majority of the University’s professional counseling and school psychology program students obtain jobs in NH upon graduation. Thus, the grant will affect a sustainable increase in the number and quality of mental health professionals in NH.

The University will use the funding to focus on integrated prevention and clinical intervention and evidence-based treatment for at-risk children, adolescents, transitional age youth, and adults, with a special emphasis on meeting the needs of those who are at risk for mental illness, substance use, intimate partner violence and suicide, and those least likely to seek continuous help. This funding will facilitate inter-professional collaboration with statewide primary care health centers, schools, correctional facilities and, community mental health centers with the primary goals of closing the gap in access to behavioral health care and nurturing collaborative and safe communities. The funding will also be used to focus on New Hampshire’s opioid crisis and post-pandemic behavioral health needs.

The purpose of the grant is in line with the mission of the University’s professional counseling and school psychology programs, which promote social justice. Five years ago PSU embarked on a groundbreaking integrated cluster model designed to facilitate interprofessional experiences for students/interns, faculty, and field supervisors. The grant is aligned with the new vision of the University which seeks to produce leaders within interdisciplinary, integrated clusters, open labs, partnerships, and through entrepreneurial innovations and experiential learning. The core values of the University align with the goals of the grant and include informed action, collaboration and communication, leadership and engaged citizenship: local, regional, national, and global, and interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

Loan Repayment Options and Plans

Many graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program who come from financially disadvantaged homes will likely qualify for three of the four National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs (LRP). Of the 54 NHSC approved sites in NH, the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has preexisting relationships with 17; program faculty actively work to connect students with these organizations. Additionally, the three programs (School Counseling, School Psychology, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling) plan on hosting a yearly job fair for students and recent graduates. This job fair will highlight opportunities with NHSC sites in NH’s more rural areas.