William James College Receives $1.9M in Federal Funding Through HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Professionals

Through community partnerships and expanded training, a grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) offers additional trauma-informed training, paid stipends, for master’s and doctoral students at William James College

July 26, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWTON, Mass., July 26, 2021 — William James College, a leader in behavioral health workforce development, has received $1.9 million from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) through the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Professionals to expand experiential training opportunities for master’s and doctoral level students.

Studies have shown improved outcomes when mental health professionals demonstrate multicultural competence and when treatment aligns with a client’s culture. Over a four-year period, the BHWET grant will provide stipends to 80 William James College students in the Clinical Psychology, Counseling, and School Psychology Departments who are committed to working with underserved populations.

“There is a shortage, nationwide, of trained behavioral health professionals who possess the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of individuals and families from historically marginalized backgrounds,” said Dr. Gemima St. Louis, associate vice president for Workforce Initiatives and Project Director for the BHWET at William James College. “This grant expands our capacity to train students to provide culturally responsive mental health services to children, adolescents, and transitional-aged youth in high-need communities.”

The program aims to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds – including different gender identities, sexual orientations, and racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Student training will be enhanced through strategic partnerships with a broad range of community-based agencies and field education sites across the state. Students will be placed in schools, integrated behavioral health centers, and primary care clinics.

“Working with community partners gives our students the opportunity to train in settings that offer diversity and exposure to the intersectionality of community and mental health,” said Dr. Shani Turner, associate director for the BHWET at William James College, assistant professor in Clinical Psychology, and director of the College’s PATHWAYS Program.

William James College offers a number of scholarship opportunities for students interested in careers in counseling, psychology, and organizational leadership. The BHWET program is unique in that it also provides stipends to students for the training they will do in the field. Turner calls the grant impactful for students and for community partners. 

“Grants like this help to reduce the financial barriers that some of our students face when making the decision to attend graduate school,” Turner said. “Being able to offer students an opportunity to receive compensation while completing program requirements communicates that we understand the sacrifice that many students have to make to earn their degree.” 

The stipends also serve to acknowledge the time and effort that partners put into student supervision. The cost of training the student is carried by the grant, but the partner also gains an employee to fill a critical need in their organization. Additionally, through their field work, students gain “amazing didactic trainings around trauma informed care,” Turner said.

Field training sites for the BHWET program will include: The Home for Little Wanderers; Juvenile Court Clinics of Norfolk and Suffolk Counties; Lynn Community Health Center; South Cove Community Health Center; Trinity Boston Counseling Center; Community HealthLink; Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot Health Center; and Boston, Lynn, and Framingham Public Schools.

“Our country’s behavioral health workforce is woefully insufficient, that is true everywhere but the need is especially felt in communities of color, in high-need school districts, among gender and sexual minority populations, and among populations where culturally responsive training is needed to meet individuals in a caring and compassionate way,” said Dr. Nicholas Covino, president of William James College. “This grant represents big steps in the right direction of increasing access to care for all people.”

The HRSA BHWET Program for Professionals aims to increase the supply of behavioral health professionals while also improving distribution of a quality behavioral health workforce and thereby increasing access to behavioral health services. Awards are available, by application, to accredited higher education and professional training programs in mental health, psychology, psychiatry, social work, counseling, and related fields.

“I am grateful to Dr. St. Louis and Dr. Turner for their leadership. This program will make a difference immediately, and it will also serve to build the stronger, more diverse behavioral health workforce that is needed to meet the ever-growing need in the long run,” Covino said. “I am grateful, too, to HRSA for their work and continued support of our efforts.”

The BHWET Program for Professionals is administered by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW). BHW creates programs designed to improve the health of people who need it most by building the workforce and connecting skilled health care providers to communities in need, or shortage designations, nationwide. These high-need areas include Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps).

HRSA announced $22 million in awards to 56 recipients during the 2021 BHWET grant cycle. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the total awarded through BHWET has now reached $66 million for 168 organizations.

Workforce Development at William James College

The William James College Center for Workforce Development oversees Workforce Development Initiatives aimed at bridging the needs of organizations, the profession, and the community by providing high quality education and training programs to prepare students to meet the demand for culturally competent behavioral health care.

BHWET is the newest initiative offered under the auspices of the Center. The PATHWAYS Program, a unique campus-community collaboration between William James College and urban school districts, and the Behavioral Health Service Corps, a paid service year for recent college graduates that provides entry-level career experience in behavioral healthcare along with credits towards a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, are also Center initiatives.

About William James College

Founded in 1974, William James College is an independent, non-profit institution and a leader in educating the next generation of mental health professionals to support the growing and diverse needs of the mental health workforce. Integrating field work with academics, the College prepares students for careers as organizational leaders and behavioral health professionals who are committed to helping the underserved, multicultural populations, children and families, and veterans. William James College alumni can be found making an impact in a variety of settings, including schools, the courts, clinical care facilities, hospitals, the community, and the workplace. To learn more about the College, please visit williamjames.edu.

Contact:

Anne Wilson, William James College, 617-549-1969, anne_wilson@williamjames.edu