Anna Maria College announced today it has been awarded a multi-year grant of up to $1.92 million that will support the education and clinical practices of mental health counseling and social work students. Eligible Anna Maria graduate level students will receive financial stipends, assistance and interdisciplinary training to expand their competencies. The goal is to increase the quality and quantity of mental health practitioners and substance use treatment providers. Anna Maria College is the only college in Central Massachusetts to receive this award. 

The project “Internships Need: Trainings, Experientials, Resources, Networks (INTERN)” is designed to interest more students in the behavioral health majors and prepare them for professional licensure and employment success. The funding, which can be extended for up to four years, is from the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program of the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Beginning this fall, graduate-level students will receive stipends of $10,000 toward their advanced degree. Recipients must be a graduate student in good academic standing in either the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (LMHC track) program or the Master of Social Work program at Anna Maria College. The grant will also help to facilitate their employment in high-need, high-demand rural communities. Interested students can visit: for more information.

INTERN will reduce student financial barriers through stipends and support; reinforce Anna Maria College’s organizational capacity to enhance, expand and sustain internships at experiential training sites; and enhance the quality of the behavioral health workforce by implementing collaborative trainings, including telehealth, that utilize team-based models of care in integrated, interdisciplinary behavior and primary care settings.

“In Massachusetts there is a shortage of master degree-level behavioral health professionals, particularly in rural communities where the demand for services is high,” said Dr. John Pratico, Director of Psychology Programs and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Anna Maria College. “This grant will help our students address the critical needs of communities in which they live and work. We are grateful to HRSA and the BHWET program for recognizing the exceptional education that Anna Maria College gives these essential workers.”

While the INTERN project will address the behavioral health needs of populations across the lifespan, Anna Maria will place a special focus on children, adolescents, transitional-aged youth, families who struggle with mental health, and individuals dealing with addiction and recovery. 

“Anna Maria College strives to work closely with our communities by educating students for careers tied to service and meeting community needs. Right now, there is an urgent need to build a more robust pipeline of professionals trained to provide mental health and social work service to the area’s diverse populations,” said President Mary Lou Retelle of Anna Maria College. “Because so many of our graduates become part of the workforce in Central Massachusetts, this grant is very strategic in how it will strengthen the College’s ability to prepare students for professional careers, help deserving students realize their educational goals, and benefit the region by increasing the number of professionals able to serve. We especially appreciate the endorsements our grant received from our many community partners as well as from our state and federal officials.” 

Anna Maria College’s LMHC Counseling Psychology program teaches students to connect with the heart, soul, and spirit of their clients to foster healing. For the Class of 2021, 100 percent of LMHC graduates were employed immediately upon graduation. The LMHC helps prepare for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This program prepares graduates with both critical-thinking skills and ethically sounding solutions to help impact their community across the spectrum of mental health professions, including clinical work in inpatient/outpatient settings, residential programs, and schools.

The MSW Program at Anna Maria College is an Advanced Generalist practice model grounded in the liberal arts and the person-in-environment framework. To promote human and social well-being, advanced generalist practitioners use a range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities based on scientific inquiry and best practices. Upon graduation, all MSW students are eligible to test for their Licensed Certified Social Work (LCSW) with the Association of Social Work Boards. 

“Many area residents are often limited in their access to behavioral health care, primarily because of challenges such as healthcare costs, travel distances and the shortage of licensed practitioners in their towns,” said Lenore Rust, Director of MSW at Anna Maria College. “The INTERN project will better prepare students for professional careers, ultimately placing more skilled practitioners throughout Central Massachusetts.”

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,920,000 with 100 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.”