Inland Empire residents can breath a sigh of relief as CSUSB received part of a $6 million grant to propel graduate students looking to work locally into becoming licensed mental health professionals.
The grant was offered by Kaiser Permanente Southern California to CSUSB and 15 other community partners from Kern, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties to improve mental and behavioral services in under-resourced Southern California areas.
The grant will serve to train students seeking a career in the field of mental health, which will benefit the community, which has seen a decrease in qualified mental health professionals.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, California has had a shortage of 336 qualified psychiatrists throughout the state since 2014. Photo by Citlaly Carlos
“What we will see here at CSUSB is a total of $80,000 over two years for Social Work and Psychology, which will go to the part-time hire and to student stipends,” says Laurie A. Smith director of School of social work and professor who has a Ph.D. from University of California Los Angeles.
“The funds will be used in two ways,” Smith said, “One will be to hire a part-time, experienced and licensed mental health provider, likely someone with a clinical social work license, to help prepare graduate students in both programs to get licenses to provide mental health services in the region.”
The grant is referred to as the Mental Health Pipeline Grant which will focus primarily on the training, licensing, and multicultural counseling of 30 students within a period of two years.
The students will be tracked along the way to ensure that they are fulfilling what the grant requires students to complete. According to Dr. Michael Lewin, professor in the department of psychology whose research interest include schema therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and anxiety.
The grant will allow the 30 students to receive $1,000 and will be used to hire a coordinator who will work with the students and will provide the multicultural and licensing content. Smith and Lewin will delegate the day-to-day running of the grant to the coordinator as stated by Lewin.
The professors are currently working on picking the criteria for choosing students for the grant. Photo by Citlaly Carlos.
“So first thing is we want them to be interested in multicultural competence,” Lewin said. “It’s a major part of the grant and be licensed in wanting to get a license. We will look at financial need and interest in staying in Southern California or California for sure.” Lewin said.
“We want to select students who are most likely to be able to stay in the region and provide high-quality mental health services. In particular, we will be emphasizing cultural competence in the provision of mental health services.” Smith said.
Today, the industry needs younger providers. According to a February Research article by the Health force Center at UCSF, 45% of psychiatrists and 37% of psychologists are over the age of 60 whom may retire within the near future.
“I think it does relate to the general issue of the aging of our health professionals, and the need to replace to our mental health professionals with younger up incoming folks,” Lewin Said.
It may take up to three to four years to see the number of mental and behavioral professionals increase.