West Virginia University professors are using funding from a federal grant to help increase the number of mental and behavioral health specialists.

In recent years, the need for mental and behavioral specialists is on the rise. Health policy changes under the Affordable Care Act will lead to millions more Americans accessing mental and behavioral health services, but the number of mental and behavioral specialists is not sufficient to meet the increasing need.

Carrie Rishel, associate professor in the School of Social Work, recently received a behavioral health workforce education and training grant totaling $545,785 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration in conjunction with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to extend support for the Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program.

Her colleague, Helen Hartnett associate director and Master of Social Work program director of the School of Social Work, serves as the co-principal investigator on the grant.

The Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program, established in 2012 by support from a mental and behavioral health education and training grant funded by the Health Resources and Service Administration, trains graduate students in the Master’s of Social Work program in areas directly related to mental and behavioral health, with the goal of creating new professionals in the field.

Working professionals can also participate in the training workshops sponsored as part of the Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program through the School’s Professional and Community Education program.

The original program funding is being used to support the training of 25 students from 2012-2015 in integrated mental and behavioral health, with a special focus on both children and military personnel, veterans and their families.

The newly funded project, known as the IMBTP-2, will fund an additional 40 students from 2014-2017 in the same field, with a focus on practice with children, adolescents and transitional-age youth who are at-risk for behavioral health disorders.

“I hope to see that we are developing a highly trained workforce in West Virginia that can address the mental and behavioral health needs of children and youth in the state, and who can serve as leaders in developing integrated models of service delivery,” Rishel said. “Integrated models of service are especially needed in rural areas.”

The program will consist of specialized coursework including completion of the “Graduate Certificate in Mental and Behavioral Health,” focused field placements (internships) in mental and behavioral health settings working with children, adolescents, and/or transitional age youth, and several specialized workshops including topics such as motivational interviewing, parent-child therapy, play therapy, substance abuse, and more.

The WVU School of Social Work will offer the program to master’s candidates at six locations in West Virginia, including Morgantown, Charleston, Beckley, Keyser, Wheeling and Martinsburg.

Rishel received her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. Her research focuses on children’s mental health, specifically the prevention of child mental health problems.

For more information, contact Carrie Rishel, at 304-293-6377 or Carrie.Rishel@mail.wvu.edu



CONTACT: Devon Copeland, Director of Marketing and Communication, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
304-293-6867, Devon.Copeland@mail.wvu.edu

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