Hogg Foundation awards $1.6 million grants to increase mental health workforce

Sylvia Butanda

 Doctoral psychology students in need of training in the mental health workforce have better opportunities for finding internships with the help of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

The foundation awarded a total of $1.6 million to three grant sites for the creation of internships for doctoral psychology students in need of training and to improve the mental health workforce.

The Travis County Juvenile Probation Department in Austin, the Scott & White Healthcare System in Temple and the University of Houston-Clear Lake Office of Counseling Services are scheduled to receive the grants. During a five-year period, grant funding will total $464,733 to Travis County, $638,853 to Scott & White and $509,082 to UH-Clear Lake, according to a press release.

“Each site will develop a new internship program that enables doctoral psychology students to get their year of supervised training and experience required for their degrees,” said Michele Guzmán, assistant director of research and evaluation at the Hogg Foundation.

Factors considered in the grant review process included accreditation from the American Psychological Association and staff who will provide interns with high-quality supervision, Guzmán said.

At the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department, the trained interns will be a part of a process which will help youth who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect and have undiagnosed, untreated mental health conditions, said Dr. Erin Foley, lead psychologist for the internship program, in a press release.

“With this grant, we can serve more youth in our programs, and the interns will gain invaluable experience working with kids and families from diverse backgrounds who are dealing with a variety of challenges,” Foley said.

The three programs combined will train an estimated 38 interns during the next five years, said Hogg Foundation spokeswoman Merrell Foote. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of practicing psychologists in 77 counties decreased, and 102 counties had no practicing psychologists in 2009, she said. Foote said shortages have been severe in rural areas, especially in South Texas, West Texas and the Panhandle.

She said psychology interns tend to stay and work in areas where they complete their internships.

“We hope that these internships will increase the number of mental health professionals in high-need areas, with respect to both specialization and geography,” Foote said.

Printed on Thursday, October 20, 2011 as: Foundation grants give psychology students training opportunities