BOONE, N.C. — Federal funding awarded to Appalachian State University — in excess of $1.75 million over a four-year period — is helping provide culturally sensitive behavioral health services, including marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling, for residents of Northwestern North Carolina.
This Behavioral Health Workforce Educational Training Program (BHWET) grant, available through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has been awarded to Dr. Karen Caldwell, professor in the Reich College of Education’s Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling (HPC) at Appalachian.
Caldwell said the funding, now approaching its fourth year, is used to recruit and train counseling interns — students in Appalachian’s marriage and family therapy (MFT) and clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) master’s degree programs, who are then placed in established mental health or primary care settings in Northwestern North Carolina.
During the third year of the BHWET Program grant, 37 MFT and CMHC students engaged in internships funded by HRSA stipends. The funding also supported two additional training opportunities for students, including a workshop on the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality, and the use of telehealth to provide mental health services.
According to Caldwell, the HPC department supports students and alumni in their search for post-graduation employment. She said MFT and CMHC graduates have high placement rates in practice settings with a principle focus of serving residents of underserved communities.
“Additional mental health services are needed in the northwestern portion of North Carolina,” Caldwell said. “Although mild to moderate mental health needs can be addressed in primary care settings, this rural area has been slow to incorporate models of integrated care.”
Caldwell received $445,764 in third-year HRSA grant funding (September 2019–August) and $458,189 in fourth-year funding (September–August 2021). Overall, the four-year grant project has received $1,754,806 in HRSA funding.
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About the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling
The Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling in Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education is responsible for organizing and providing instructional programs in counseling and other human development functions for public schools, colleges and universities and various agencies. The department offers Master of Arts degrees in clinical mental health counseling, professional school counseling, student affairs administration and marriage and family therapy. Learn more at https://hpc.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls approximately 2,400 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.