2023 – Tackling the Youth Mental Health Crisis

General campus shot with fountain in middle

In response to the growing youth mental health crisis, Seattle University College of Education (COE) has received a $3.5 million grant from the United States Department of Education to help address the shortage of various mental health care providers in public schools.

The five-year grant will support the project, called Puget Sound Partnership to Expand and Diversify the Mental Health Service Professional Pipeline, and help WCC graduate students in school psychology and school counseling with scholarships and other financial support. Graduate students will work directly with students from local school districts.

Addressing psychological, social and mental health needs in schools is critical, especially in the wake of a global pandemic and continuing racial inequalities in education and school staff, says College Dean education Cynthia Dillard, PhD.

“This federal grant will help Seattle University meet this need by preparing a diverse cadre of school psychologists and school counselors with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to provide culturally appropriate services to youth and their families. “, says Dean Dillard. “We are excited about this opportunity and the resources it provides to meet this need. We are also excited to deepen our core mission of preparing education professionals and leaders capable of creating a more just and humane world.

The team that led the effort to secure the grant includes Assistant Professor of School Psychology Jason Parkin, PhD, Professor and School Counseling Program Director Mary Amanda Graham, PhD, and David Fainstein, PhD, Assistant Professor of K- 12 Teaching, Learning and Social Justice.

The funding will also create a diverse pool of incoming graduate students from Highline College – known for its diverse student population – to address provider shortages, while ensuring that these mental health professionals match the student demographics they serve. serve.

The effects of the project could be felt immediately, with plans to begin placing graduate students in local high-needs school districts in the fall for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

As the country emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Surgeon General highlighted the crisis in youth mental health and in particular the mental health of marginalized young people, but Professor Parkin notes that the crisis in adolescent mental health was ongoing long before the pandemic.

“It’s exacerbated by the shortage of school mental health professionals,” says Professor Parkin. “We are proud that our school psychology and counseling training programs at Seattle University are able to meet these challenges.”

In total, the program will allow 96 school psychologists and school counselors to be trained and certified to serve more than 5,200 students.

Professor Graham called the effort a creative and innovative project shared between the School Guidance and School Psychology departments, saying it will establish a foundation for professional collaboration and connection in the field of practice.

“This grant will serve as a pathway to help students from marginalized communities serve schools in need,” says Professor Graham.

In exchange for a commitment to work in needy schools after graduation, SU will provide meaningful, needs-based scholarships and stipends to reduce barriers to attendance and subsidize internship and tuition fees. internship. Allowances can be used to pay for expenses such as travel and childcare.

“I am very excited to use the majority of our federal grants to directly support SU students in their graduate school mental health program,” says Professor Fainstein.

In addition to benefiting current SU graduate students, Highline College students engaged in four-year degree programs related to education and youth development will be recruited for the College of Education in school psychology and school guidance.

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