Social Work Students to Benefit from $1 Million Grant
By Sara Owen, Managing Editor
A grant for $1.087 million has been awarded to UNCP’s Social Work program by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ division of Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA).
The grant will fund the training of 60-80 social workers over a three-year period in the Master of Social Work program. The students will receive annual stipends of $10,000 and healthcare insurance while interning in healthcare settings.
According to Dr. Sherry Edwards, chair of the department of Social Work, the student internships are two semesters long and 250 hours each semester.
Dr. Edwards wrote the grant proposal titled “All of Me: Integrative Behavioral Health.”
The grant will focus on providing the community with better access to mental health care and educate UNCP students about integrative behavioral health.
According to Dr. Alice “Kay” Locklear, assistant professor in the social work department, UNCP is working with agencies including Cape Fear Valley Health Systems in Fayetteville, Southeastern Health in Lumberton, Robeson Health Care Corporation, Children’s Health of the Carolinas and UNCP’s Healthy Start infant mortality program. She said she expects the program to expand to more providers in the future.
Dr. Locklear said the patients and clients will directly benefit from the program, and the students, supervisors, the Social Work department and agencies also will benefit.
“Our students are going to benefit,” Dr. Locklear said.
According to Dr. Locklear, integrative behavioral health is a person’s overall health and not just physical health.
“It’s about bringing a person together as a whole,” Dr. Locklear said.
Dr. Edwards said there is a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues and that people tend to go to their primary care physician instead of a specialist who is more qualified to handle mental health issues. She said she wants to see the students become social workers who can help people get access to mental health care.
She also said she hopes the community can benefit from the grant and improvements to the program.
“We will be providing services in the community,” Dr. Edwards said.
She said that the number of students and their internship hours will amount to about 30,000 hours of services being provided to the local community in the next three years.
Dr. Edwards said it is a way for the university to give back to the community.
As of Nov. 6, there are 20 UNCP students in the specialized internship. Applications will be available in spring 2015 and again in fall 2015.
Every year for three years, new applicants will be selected to take part in the paid internship. Dr. Edwards said she expects at least 60 students to be a part of the internship during the next couple of years.
She said applicants will do the internship during their concentration year during their Master’s program. All participating interns will already have completed a separate internship beforehand.
Dr. Edwards said she hopes more grants are in the program’s future.
“I hope it’s the first of many,” she said.
Many social work faculty members helped with the grant application, including Cindy Locklear, Dr. Locklear and Dr. Summer Stanley. Dr. Josephine Chaumba will be the grant evaluator. The Office of Sponsored Research and Programs also helped with the grant proposal.
There will be a social work symposium on March 20, 2015, about integrative behavioral health.
The symposium will be the first of many at UNCP made possible by the grant.
Graphic by Sara Owen.