The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration awarded University of Georgia researchers a $1.4 million grant to fund “community-based training” for students seeking to work as behavioral health professionals, according to a UGA news release.
The UGA research team “will train about 100 graduate students to help increase mental and behavioral health services in Georgia and beyond,” the release said.
Principal investigator of the grant Bernadette Heckman, a professor in the department of counseling and human development services within UGA’s College of Education, will lead the team alongside co-principal investigator Orion Mowbray, an associate professor in UGA’s School of Social Work.
Master’s students in social work and mental health counseling will be given a yearlong $10,000 stipend, and doctoral students in counseling psychology will be given a yearlong $28,000 stipend, the news release said.
The news release said second-year graduate students will train at health centers across Georgia’s Public Health District 10, which includes Clarke, Barrow, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe and Walton counties.
“[Health District 10 is] really underserved—most of the counties here are considered mental health shortage areas, and we’re seeing that it’s becoming a problem,” Heckman said.
The UGA team will “grow the state’s opioid-related behavioral health workforce as part of HRSA’s Opioid Workforce Expansion Program,” the release said. The UGA grant represents only a fraction of the nearly $400 million the HRSA, an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded to fight the opioid epidemic.