A West Virginia University professor is using a grant to improve the access to mental health care in West Virginia for children, members of the military and veterans.

Carrie Rishel, Ph.D., an associate professor of social work at WVU, has received a $476,273 mental and behavioral health education and training grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration to create the Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program. The program will address the lack of qualified mental and behavioral health practitioners in West Virginia.

Rishel and graduate students are targeting two underserved populations: children, and military personnel, veterans and their families. The lack of capacity in statewide child welfare hinders these mental and behavioral health services to children who are in need. Military personnel can experience reintegration issues when returning home from active duty. This group and their families can experience difficulty adjusting to daily living in combination with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The grant supports the training of 25 graduate students at WVU over the three-year funding period in mental and behavioral health practice, with a focus on integrated and culturally appropriate models of rural service delivery. The School of Social Work will offer the program to master’s candidates at six locations in West Virginia, including Morgantown, Charleston, Beckley, Keyser, Wheeling and Martinsburg.

The grant supports speakers and clinical training in mental and behavioral health for the graduate students. It also provides stipends for graduate students to travel and serve in rural areas of the state that are in the most need.

“In West Virginia, children are often forced to receive care outside the state due the shortage of in-state mental and behavioral health services,” Richel said.
“By training graduate students in mental and behavioral health, we can make in-state services more readily available to these in need populations. This benefits not only our state, but our graduate students gain experience that can’t be taught in the classroom.”

Rishel focuses on the individual needs of the clients and encourages families, schools, communities and treatment services to work together for best results.

“With everyone working collaboratively toward the same goal instead of independently providing fragmented services, the success of treatment and prevention efforts increases,” Rishel said.

In order to meet the training program goals, four essential components will be implemented. Students will receive specialized field placement in mental and behavioral health settings in rural areas; customized coursework plans drawing from approved electives; specialized training workshops for trainees and field instructors and mentorship, professional networking, leadership development and employment placement support for candidates in the graduate program.

WVU is one of 24 institutions with graduate social work and psychology programs to receive a mental and behavioral health education and training award.

Rishel received her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. Her research focuses on children’s mental health, specifically the prevention of child mental health problems.

For more information, contact Carrie Rishel, at 304-293-5936 or Carrie.Rishel@mail.wvu.edu



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