Wayne State College

WSC Receives $1M Grant to Help Serve Behavioral Health Care Needs in Rural Nebraska

Published Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Rural Mental Health

The project aims to increase access to behavioral health care for rural and other high-demand populations, while encouraging WSC graduates to practice in underserved communities.

Wayne State has received the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) for Professionals grant for $1,067,689 for a four-year period to strengthen the capacity and bonds between the College and the experiential training sites in Northeast Nebraska. More than $660,000 of the funds have been earmarked for scholarships for students in Wayne State’s graduate program in clinical mental health.

The project, titled Addressing Rural Behavioral Health Needs Through Clinical Placements and Supervision, aims to increase access to behavioral health care for rural and other high-demand populations, including the 40 counties without a mental health provider. Graduates of Wayne State’s clinical mental health counseling program will be encouraged to practice in underserved communities and serve as supervisors at experiential training sites for future clinical mental health counseling students.

“Just speaking about how important this is at the institutional level, this grant marks a change in the aggressiveness of Wayne State to seek opportunities to help us better serve our region,” said Dr. Nicholas Shudak, Dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Science at Wayne State. “I am thankful and grateful for the team that helped me put this together, and especially for our regional partners. I am hopeful this grant has a powerful and sustaining impact on behavioral health for years to come.”

Wayne State will initially partner with eight experiential training sites in the three-county target market of Holt, Madison, and Platte counties. Each site has the capacity to train at least one WSC clinical mental health counseling student, and four sites can train up to two counseling students at a time.

“The HRSA grant allows WSC to be a leader in rural investment,” said Dr. Alison Boughn, Counseling Department chair and assistant professor in the School of Education and Behavioral Science. “We recognize the difficulties our neighboring communities are facing in their efforts to access and maintain quality clinical mental health providers. With the implementation of the HRSA grant, we can start the conversations for adequate wages for our clinical providers to remain in rural communities as they provide accessible mental health care. This also ensures WSC can develop a stable model of support and consultation for our local providers to expand their network of care across our underserved region.”

The key goals of the project for Wayne State:

  • Prepare 60 BHWET-funded clinical mental health counseling students to practice in rural Northeast Nebraska upon graduation.
  • Recruit, retain, and graduate a diverse cadre of trainees reflective of the populations to be served.
  • Increase the number of Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-qualified clinical training supervisors by 40.
  • Improve interdisciplinary care knowledge and skills for students, faculty, and experiential training site supervisors.
  • Improve telehealth skills for students, faculty, and experiential training site supervisors.
  • Provide funding for $10,000 stipends to 66 clinical mental health counseling graduate students in their final experiential training.

Questions? Contact Dr. Shudak at 402-375-7164.

Learn more about the College’s master's in counseling program at www.wsc.edu/mse-counseling.