UNT professors receive more than $1 million in grants to increase cultural competency in mental health services

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 14:15

Three University of North Texas professors have been awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to begin the work of increasing cultural competency in therapists.

Angie Wilson, assistant professor in the Department Counseling and Higher Education in the College of Education and Chandra Carey, associate professor and interim chair of the College of Health and Public Services Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services along with Peggy Ceballos, associate professor also in the department of  Counseling and Higher Education in the College of Education have been awarded a four-year $1,272,233 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a program to address health disparities by enhancing the delivery of culturally competent mental health services to underserved communities. Through this grant they will prepare UNT students to provide cultural competency training throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The focus of this grant award is to provide counseling services in integrated care settings and to increase the number of mental health counselors working with underserved communities. In addition to the training, 80 master’s level students will receive stipends for their clinical internship experiences.

“For me, it is exciting to look at the impact that the services we will provide through this grant will have on our community,” said Ceballos.

Wilson and Carey also have been awarded a separate grant of $353,543 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to build clinical partnerships and assist with delivery of culturally competent counseling services and recruitment and retention of students from underserved populations.

Wilson said that grant will result in UNT developing partnerships with more than 20 agencies in the Dallas Fort Worth area to train therapists in cultural competency. She added that 33 UNT master’s students will work as interns with those community partners that target Latino and African-American communities.

“This is about the people in these communities getting the help they need,” Wilson said. “Our goal is that it extends beyond the interns and reaches the citizens in underserved communities.”

Carey added that one of the issues they hope to address with both grants is that people of color don’t generally reach out for help with mental health issues. Even when they do, they are not likely to return for regular counseling sessions because of a lack of cultural understanding from the therapist, she said.

“This is about access to services that reflect all cultures,” Carey said. “We need to redefine the narrative and recognize cultural differences so that all people can get the help they need.”

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