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Last week, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) hosted a roundtable with students and faculty at Bowie State University (BSU) and announced that the institution was recently awarded a $5 million grant to create a pipeline of diverse mental health counselors. Approximately 7,000 students across the nation are expected to be served by this grant program each year.
“Our public schools are in the midst of a mental health emergency,” said Congressman Hoyer. “This grant will enable Bowie State to partner with local school districts to help increase the number of highly qualified school counselors who can provide mental health services in high-need schools while increasing the number of underrepresented counselors.”
This grant, funded by the Deparmtnet of Education’s Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program, will allow the BSU Department of Counseling to partner with the school districts in neighboring counties to train graduate students and current school counelsors and make them state-certified to teach diverse audiences.
While exact numbers are hard to quantify, research shows that African Americans are underrepresented in mental health professions. In 2019, The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly 70% of social workers and 88% of mental health counselors were white.
“Fourteen of our graduate students will be placed at 14 high-need schools that have been identified by our partners,” said Dr. Nikki Ham, assistant professor of counseling and president of the Maryland School Counselor Association. “Our goal is to create a pipeline of culturally sensitive mental health professionals to serve emotionally distressed students who suffer from depression, anxiety, trauma-related disorders and other mental health conditions.”