Campus: CSU Long Beach -- February 08, 2002

Department of Social Work at Cal State Long Beach Receives $1.95 Million from L.A. County Department of Mental Health

The Department of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach has received a three- year, $1.95 million grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for a program that provides stipends and tuition for graduate students interested in developing careers in mental health field.

"This program is designed to deal with the serious shortfall of master's prepared social workers in mental health, which is estimated at 30 percent," noted John Oliver, director of the Social Work Department at CSULB. "The recently funded program will provide immediate assistance for people already committed to careers in mental health. Special emphasis is placed on fast tracking students for employment as mental health professionals within one academic year."

The funds will provide stipends and tuition for students enrolled in the department's master's degree program. Oliver said that first-year students get $5,000 per academic year while second-year students receive $8,000. The closer students are to graduation, the more support they receive. Students also are given specialized placements for their field practicum.

"The receipt of stipends, tuition and work release makes this program unbelievably attractive," Oliver pointed out. "This program is a wonderful example of a collaborative effort by the university and the local community to solve a serious manpower shortage problem."

The shortage of mental health workers with master's degrees is especially acute in light of consistent research findings that most of the U.S. population will experience three serious mental episodes in their lives, but only between 30 and 40 percent will ever receive treatment.
"We know now that providing easily accessible mental health services has become an absolute necessity," said Oliver. "A person with a master's degree in social work has a world of opportunities in the mental health field."

The grant is an endorsement of Cal State Long Beach as a quality institution, Oliver believes. "Its academic programs are seen as being capable of preparing individuals for work in professional social work practice. It also says students, if given the opportunity to choose between all other schools in Southern California, will select the Department of Social Work at CSULB for its reputation as a good place to learn."

As part of a consortium that includes USC, UCLA and California State University, Los Angeles, CSULB has worked on development of special programs in mental health since 1998. The funding for this program will run through June 2004.

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