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College of Education receives $1.41 million grant to enhance behavioral health services

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The College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University has been awarded a $1.41 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This grant will fund the project Help, Educate, Learn and Prevent (HELP), by enhancing the mental health services of rural, vulnerable and medically underserved communities.

The grant is part of the HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program, which is a grant that places a special emphasis on establishing or expanding internships or field placement programs in behavioral health that include interdisciplinary training for students/interns, faculty, and field supervisors to provide quality behavioral health services to communities in need.

Dr. Michael Gates, assistant director of sponsored programs, expressed his excitement for the opportunity to improve the quality of life for others.

“Research and Sponsored Programs is excited about this new award by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The much-needed project is designed to close the gap in access to behavioral health services in underserved communities,” said Gates.

The grant will also support the education of master’s level students enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling Programs at Jackson State University. The main goal is to increase the number of field placements and internships in these programs with a focus on impacting communities that lack these services.

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Pictured left to right: Dr. Dion Porter; Dr. Lakitta Johnson; Dr. Chaiqua Harris; Dr. Alfonso Haralson; Dr. Regina McMurtery; and Dr. Daniel Watkins. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Another goal of Project HELP, which will be funded by this HRSA BHWET grant, is to expand student learning experiences by implementing interdisciplinary training and integrating behavioral health with primary care. This will also implement training for faculty and field placement supervisors with the similar focus on integrating behavioral health with primary care.

Numerous faculty members collaborated on this project effort such as Dr. Regina Fults-McMurtery, project director; Dr. Lakitta Johnson; Dr. Ronica Arnold Branson; Dr. Chaiqua Harris and Dr. Alfonzo Haralson.

Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, commended the collaborative effort it took to secure the grant. He thanked Faults-McMurtery and her team for an outstanding job in recognizing a need and seeking a solution. Watkins also offered kudos to the Department of Health and Human Services for showing support and kindness to the underserved.

“This grant will assist Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling to populate impoverish rural areas with high-quality Jackson State University counselors,” said Watkins. “I cannot over emphasize how the end result will bring much comfort to families and expertise to struggling schools.”