The Health Resources & Services Administration recently awarded a four-year, $1.9 million Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant to Candyce Berger, Ph.D., professor of Social Work and associate dean for Research and Faculty Affairs for the College of Health Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso.
“Our success is directly related to the effort put forth by all of the faculty and community partners,” Berger said. “(The grant) provides student stipends, promotes our ongoing relationship with community-based health and mental health providers, and improves the quality of health care services within our community.”
The interdisciplinary, multi-institutional grant involves UTEP’s School of Nursing and Department of Social Work, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s (TTUHSC El Paso) Department of Psychiatry, and four community partners that represent Federally Qualified Health Centers to educate mental health practitioners to practice within Integrated Behavioral Health.
Shafik Dharamsi, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Sciences, said that cultural humility and effective communication are crucial capabilities in the health professions.
“Preparing our emerging health and human service professionals to bridge the divide between the culture of medicine and the daily lives of our patients, particularly in underserved areas, will help our students to develop a strong awareness of the attitudes that prevail within the healthcare system, and how we can work alongside our diverse communities to help improve quality of life,” Dharamsi said.
The goal of this grant is to increase the number of culturally and linguistically competent mental healthcare providers in rural, vulnerable and medically-underserved communities by expanding internship opportunities in integrated behavioral healthcare settings.
These providers include students in the Master of Social Work program, internships through TTUHSC El Paso, or UTEP’s Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.
Berger is the project’s principal investigator. Her co-PIs are Kathryn Schmidt, Ph.D., and Hyejin Jung, Ph.D., assistant professors of social work; Leslie Robbins, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing; and Arturo Corrales, Psy. D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at TTUHSC El Paso.