Fairfield Receives $1.6MM in BHWET Grant Funding

Fairfield Receives $1.6MM in BHWET Grant Funding

stock photo of counselor and client

The grant from the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program will deliver financial support, enhanced education, and specialized internship training in integrated, team-based care to students in four of Fairfield’s behavioral health master's degree programs.

We are proud to receive this BHWET grant which will support a diverse student population in our excellent graduate mental health programs in ways that contribute to the well-being of individuals and families in Bridgeport and other local communities.

— Provost Christine Siegel, PhD

Fairfield University is one of several Southwest Connecticut universities that has received grant funding from the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program (BHWET). The announcement was recently made by Congressman Jim Himes that this Health and Human Service program will work to increase access to quality mental health services by increasing the number of mental health professionals in Connecticut.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the number of Americans experiencing difficulties with mental health,” said Himes. “In 2020, we saw a nearly 30 percent increase in drug overdose deaths, partially caused by pandemic-related stress and lack of access to mental health services; the shortage of mental health professionals is a major contributor to this lack of access. As our communities move past Covid-19, a lot of the trauma remains, which is why ensuring there are enough mental health professionals in our area is more urgent than ever.”

Fairfield’s School of Education and Human Development is committed to training behavioral health graduate students in cutting-edge models of care that serve those who are most vulnerable. The BHWET grant will deliver financial support, enhanced education, and specialized internship training in integrated, team-based care to 103 competitively selected students in four of Fairfield’s behavioral health masters’ programs over the course of four years: the Master of Social Work (MSW), the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC), and the Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

“Fairfield University is committed to the professional development of men and women who serve others,” said Provost Christine Siegel, PhD. “We are at our best when we do this work in partnership with the community and in service to those most in need. We are proud to receive this BHWET grant which will support a diverse student population in our excellent graduate mental health programs in ways that contribute to the well-being of individuals and families in Bridgeport and other local communities.” 

Fairfield has partnered with local training sites to serve a range of underserved communities and clients in Fairfield and New Haven counties. Focus will be placed on assisting high-risk populations including those who experience substance use disorder, mental health disorders, individuals who have experienced childhood trauma, and more.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how factors such as job security, health insurance, and healthy food impact health outcomes, and how difficult it can be for many in marginalized communities to access high quality medical and behavioral health care,” said grant writer and program director Julie Berrett-Abebe, PhD, LICSW, assistant professor of family therapy and social work. “Funding through the BHWET grant will allow us to better train our behavioral health graduate students to work in innovative integrated care models in underserved areas. By collaborating with community partners and harnessing the strengths of the community and professional team members, we hope to contribute to reducing disparities and improving health in Connecticut.” 

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Last modified: 11-23-21 8:58 PM

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