MU, UMSL to split $1.8 million grant for behavioral health training

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COLUMBIA - MU and UMSL are splitting $1.8 million to train behavioral health experts for vulnerable and under-served populations.  
The universities will use the grant to fund a total of 120 master's students in the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals program.
Director of MU's School of Social Work Dr. Dale Fitch said it's something to look forward to. 
"Our ultimate goal is to meet the mental health needs for the citizens of Missouri," he said. "The school of social work values its place not only on campus but the role we play for the state."
The program offers professional experience through community partnerships with behavioral health agencies across the state. Fitch said the selection process won't be easy.
"It's a competitive process because it's like a paid internship."
He said the positions are open to online students as well. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant will also help connect students with behavioral health employment opportunities.
Dean of UMSL's School of Social Work Sharon Johnson said it's necessary. 
"This is important work happening in important places," she said. "Being able to build an educated and experienced workforce to deliver needed behavioral health services to vulnerable individuals and their families is beyond beneficial."
The program will build on the current curriculum at both universities.