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West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

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Grant to boost number of behavioral health experts in the region

Marshall University has been awarded $854,272 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program (BHWET). The university will receive $213,568 each year for the next four years with the aim of increasing the number of behavioral health providers serving underserved populations and people in rural areas.

According to Dr. Marianna Footo Linz, principal investigator of the grant and chairman of Marshall’s psychology department, the program will help fund clinical internships and placements for students in the following behavioral health programs:  Masters in Psychology with Clinical and School emphasis, the Masters in Counseling, and the Psychiatry residency program administered through the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. The program will provide opportunities to train students in an integrated health care model.

“I talk to many primary care providers who understand the pressing need to screen for substance use problems but are hesitant to do so when they have nowhere to send people who need treatment,” Dr. Footo Linz said. “We need to build this capacity in our region if we are to impact the crisis at hand.”

“This program will help us provide crucial treatment to individuals who are in need of mental health and addiction services, but who cannot access services due to barriers and gaps in the current system,” said Amy Saunders, director of Marshall’s Wellness Center and a co-principal investigator for the grant. “We know that integrated behavioral health care in primary care is an important, effective model to deliver mental health services in rural areas. Providing funding to enhance behavioral health workforce capacity is a worthwhile investment.”

Students in this program will attend interdisciplinary seminars on various topics, including responding to substance use disorders in primary care, models of integrated behavioral health care in primary care, trauma-informed care and trauma-focused interventions, and Appalachian culture and the unique service needs of individuals in rural and underserved communities.

For more information, visit www.marshall.edu.