By Sloane M. Perron, Manager of Marketing Communications 

Reliant Foundation, a health-focused organization serving the Central and MetroWest areas of Massachusetts, awarded a $20,000 grant to Anna Maria College to support the College’s Mental Health Awareness and Intervention for Early Career Professionals. The goal is to prepare this next generation of caring professionals as they enter a climate of growing mental health factors and workplace shortages. The Early Career Project program unites Anna Maria’s Human Services, Psychology, and Social Work departments in a curriculum that provides students with training that focuses on mental and behavioral health. 

Work shortages in health professions are prominent in Central Massachusetts, where various mental health, public safety, medical, and public health needs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also distressed the field of youth mental health services within the Commonwealth. 

“There is an urgent need for well-prepared professionals who can answer the call for help and Anna Maria College’s proactive Early Career Project provides more training so that they can enter their fields with confidence and compassion,” said Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle. “Once in their careers, our students will help to advance community outcomes. They embody the goals of Reliant Foundation as well as our own mission to serve the community. I want to thank Reliant Foundation for their continued support.” 

Reliant Foundation President, Kelsa Zereski added, “At a time when waiting lists for mental health services are long and staffing is short, Anna Maria College students give us hope that upon graduation, they will answer the call to support the mental health and recovery needs of this community by joining the local workforce.” 

Reliant Foundation’s grant will be used to develop this forward-thinking curriculum, pay for student internship stipends, and education software that students will use to manage their placement sites.  

This year’s grant represents an ongoing relationship between Anna Maria College and the Reliant Foundation focused on addressing community needs. Over the past five years, Anna Maria College has received Reliant Foundation support for the College’s Opioid Regional Conference, Addiction & Recovery Resource Center, Sober Project, and the Counselor Training Center.