University of Houston–Clear Lake receives mental health workforce development grant
October 18, 2011
Contact: Dr. Cindy Cook
AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Houston–Clear Lake Office of Counseling Services is one of three grant sites chosen for a $1.6 million initiative to create internships for doctoral psychology students that will help alleviate mental health workforce shortages in Texas.
The university received a five-year $509,082 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin. The grant will fund a new internship program that will enable students to get the year of supervised training and experience required for a doctoral degree in psychology.
Twelve interns will be trained by the program during the five-year grant. Their salaries and the cost of their training will be paid by the grant. In return, the interns will expand the university’s capacity to provide mental health services to the campus’s 8,000 students, all of whom are juniors, seniors or graduate students. The typical student is older, works and has a family. Sixteen percent are low-income, 35 percent are Hispanic or African American, and 37 percent are the first in their family to attend college. Two-thirds are women.
“Mental health services in Harris, Galveston and Brazoria counties are severely lacking, especially for students who don’t have insurance,” said UH–Clear Lake Associate Director of Counseling and Training Director Cynthia Cook. “With this grant, our center can serve more students and the interns will gain invaluable experience working with people from all walks of life who are dealing with a variety of challenges.”
In accepting the grant, the university has agreed to seek national accreditation for the internship program from the American Psychological Association (APA), which means the program must meet national standards for quality of training. Only 23 sites are accredited in Texas, including six in the Houston area.
“While the Houston area has a number of APA-accredited internships, the University of Houston–Clear Lake serves students who live in underserved counties with respect to mental health services,” said Dr. Michele Guzmán, assistant director of research and evaluation at the Hogg Foundation and a clinical associate professor in counseling psychology. “The Office of Counseling Services has a very positive reputation for training doctoral students and is well-positioned to create a high-quality internship program.”
Guzmán said that psychology workforce trends in Texas are troubling. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of practicing psychologists in 77 counties decreased, and 102 counties had no practicing psychologists in 2009. The shortages have been most severe in rural areas, especially in South Texas, West Texas and the Panhandle.
Two other sites participating in the initiative are Scott & White Healthcare System in Temple and Travis County Juvenile Probation Department in Austin. The three programs combined will train an estimated 38 interns during the next five years.
The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.