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UNC Pembroke, PSRC form school-based mental health partnership

Mental Health Grant
Pictured from left to right are: Dr. Shenika Jones (UNCP), Dr. Dana Unger (UNCP), Rikki Bullard (PSRC), Jadell Dial Hawks (PSRC), Dr. Jeffery Warren (UNCP), Dr. Shanita Wooten (PSRC Superintendent), Dr. Gary Mauk (UNCP) and Dr. Jonathan Ricks (UNCP)

UNC Pembroke is working in partnership with the Public Schools of Robeson County to improve student access to mental health resources.

The county school system was recently awarded a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program. Funds will be used to develop a district-wide training and professional development network and expand the pipeline of mental health professionals in the district.

The grant provides financial incentives for five school counselor practicum students in UNC Pembroke’s training programs to accept internships and employment in the district.

“We are always excited to partner with the Public Schools of Robeson County to provide programs that enrich the mental health services provided to children and adolescents in schools,” said Dr. Jonathan Ricks, assistant professor of Professional School Counseling at UNCP.

Five students enrolled in the Professional School Counseling program will be selected to complete field placement requirements beginning the Spring 2020 semester. Students will receive a stipend contingent upon their agreement to work as a school counselor in the district for two years. The school system hopes to provide continued employment as the budget allows.

The Counseling Department faculty will mentor the students during the field placement and two-year assignment. As part of the school-based mental health partnership, the counseling faculty will provide professional development to all school staff and administrators in the district. Some of the comprehensive school counseling programs will include helping students develop positive personal relationships with others, build self-esteem and problem-solving skills. Training will also comprise of ways to prevent bullying, violence and disruptive behavior.

“Research fully supports the positive impact that school counselors and comprehensive school counseling programs have on the social/emotional, academic, and career development of students,” Ricks added.

“The Department of Counseling is committed to training and supporting highly qualified school counseling students to work in PSRC. Additionally, through systematic and intentional professional development and preventative services, we anticipate increases in student academic achievement, fewer disciplinary issues, and healthier young people in our region.”

In addition to Ricks, other UNCP professional school counseling faculty who collaborated with PSRC on the grant were Dr. Jeffrey Warren, Dr. Gary Mauk, Dr. Shenika Jones and Dr. Dana Unger.