by John Pratico and Lenore Rust

On February 15, 2022, The Boston Globe published a page one story “Clinicians are leaving their jobs at mental health centers amid rising demand.” We encourage you to read it. The article highlights a survey of healthcare workers by the Association for Behavioral Healthcare which found that there aren’t enough clinicians to address the increased demand for mental health care. It’s a real crisis, especially for those urgently in need of care. 

At Anna Maria College where behavioral health, psychology, social work and nursing are among our top programs, we are acutely aware of this challenge. Becoming a health and mental health professional takes training and time – and a lot of education. The fact is that in order to improve access to behavioral health services, we need more highly-skilled professionals working in the sector. This is something that public officials are looking at. For example, Anna Maria College was awarded a multi-year federal grant last fall of nearly $2 million to strengthen the region’s behavioral health workforce by supporting the education and clinical practices of mental health counseling and social work students. 

Simply stated, Anna Maria students in these graduate programs are eligible for stipends to help them manage essential field experience. Often, students are pursuing their degree while working or balancing education with home. These stipends, which amount to $10,000 per eligible student, help reduce barriers and give students more financial flexibility with their experiential training. The end goal with this grant is to increase the quality and quantity of mental health practitioners, social workers and substance use treatment providers.

One only needs to read this news story or read weekly news headlines or talk to friends to realize that we are in a mental health crisis. The pandemic has only added pressure to societal mental health concerns and to the arduous workloads of behavioral health professionals. We need a deeper bench across the spectrum of mental health professions, such as clinical social workers in inpatient/outpatient settings, residential programs, and schools. The jobs are available and employment opportunities will continue to increase. However, education and training require time and a heartfelt determination to help others. This propensity to help, to serve, is part of our DNA at Anna Maria. For more information on our graduate program financial stipend, click here: