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$200,000 to support behavioral-health students

Anschutz Foundation funds to support veterans and other students entering mental-health and addictions counseling.

By Cory Phare

April 28, 2020

Jessica Retrum teaching social work course.The Anschutz Foundation has awarded Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Health Institute $200,000 to support behavioral-health education, focusing on addictions/mental-health professionals and veterans to help diversify the field and empower the communities served.

“What this does is establish a gateway of opportunities for our students,” said Jenn Capps, dean of MSU Denver’s College of Professional Studies. “One of the barriers for entry into behavioral health is squaring entry-level pay with the financial burden students can incur from studying.

“A gift like this ensures that they’re able to pursue what they’re called to do while addressing the shortfall of workers in the field.”

According to statistics from the grant application, 15.3% of Coloradans reported poor behavioral health in 2019 compared with 11.8% in 2017 (Colorado Health Access Survey), and employment of substance-abuse treatment providers is expected to grow by 30.3% between 2015 and 2025 (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, 2016).

The initial one-year funding will establish the Behavioral Health Scholars program, which will provide scholarships to 12 students pursuing graduate work in Social Work and the recently launched Master’s of Clinical Behavioral Health with a concentration in Addictions Counseling (enabling students to pursue Licensed Addiction Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor designations). Twenty-one scholarships will also be available for undergraduate students in human services and counseling, social work, integrative health care and psychology.

In addition to scholarships, the funds will establish applied practica/internships and mentorship structures based off of the existing Health Career Opportunities Program, the Colorado Health Foundation-funded DACA/Undocumented Health Careers Program and the recently established Centura Scholars.

The replicable support model is proving successful, boasting retention rates of 95-100%, Capps said.

“We’re very proud of the efficacy of our program,” she added. “And (Anschutz representatives) said they were too – we’re looking forward to continued opportunities to expand access for our students into these important careers.”

The program is slated to launch this fall; applications will be available shortly.

For more information on the program, contact Capps.

Topics: Academics, Award, Collaboration, Colorado, Denver, Health, Health Institute, Mental Health, Student Success, Veterans

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