Behavioral health provider shortage addressed by JMU program
With a $1.6 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the master’s degree students will receive stipends as they train and provide assistance to community-based partners in Augusta, Greene, Page, Rockingham, Rockbridge and Shenandoah counties.
Project director Amanda Evans said the students will work as clinical interns in rural counseling centers and schools in the program she and co-directors Kelly Atwood, Tammy Gilligan and Michele Kielty dubbed Rural Interdisciplinary Service and Education: Unlimited Potential (RISE-UP).
The money will also be used to create professional development materials and to provide professional development to 10 behavioral health faculty, 20 field site supervisors and 100 alumni/community providers.
Over the four years, the students — who are studying to be clinical mental health counselors, school counselors or school psychologists — will provide 12,900 hours of clinical services in the six counties that are classified as Health Professional Shortage Areas, said Robin Anderson, head of graduate psychology.
“It’s a great win-win,” Anderson said. “Students often have to do these training experiences without compensation. Now they’re getting training in the high-need areas and providing lots of hours of service to the counties.”
Anderson said she hopes the program also encourages students to seek work in rural areas upon graduation.
The money comes from HRSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program.