UNCP partners with NCDPI to increase mental health providers in schools


UNC Pembroke is collaborating with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to increase the number of school-based mental health providers.

NCDPI was recently awarded a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help bolster the pipeline of school counselors, social workers and mental health clinicians.

The grant project will serve students in eight school districts, including Scotland, Harnett, Pitt, Pender, Alamance-Burlington, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Catawba and Wayne. Project ADS will recruit, train and re-specialize school-based mental health providers, provide travel stipends for internships and provide stipends for internship supervisors.

UNCP offers a two-year, school counseling licensure-only program for candidates who have a graduate degree in a counseling area, including addiction, career, clinical mental health or marriage and family counseling. The program takes about two years to complete.

UNCP students currently enrolled in the undergraduate- or graduate-level social work program can complete a specialty in school social work. The same option is offered to professionals who have completed a BSW or MSW degree and are employed in a North Carolina public school setting.

“We are excited to partner with NCDPI and to help increase the number of mental health professionals in our region to support the public schools,” said Dr. Jonathan Ricks, assistant professor and director of the Professional School Counseling graduate program at UNCP.

“Student mental health is a high priority right now post-pandemic, so increasing this pipeline will help address these needs,” Ricks said.

The two courses needed to complete the specialty for social work are offered online and in person, according to Dr. Summer Woodside, associate professor and school social work licensure coordinator.

“The mental health needs of our students in the public school have become very apparent, especially since COVID-19,” Woodside said. “We are excited to partner with NCDPI and the school districts to help build the mental health workforce to continue and prepare school social workers to meet the needs of students and their families.”

Click here to learn about UNCP’s school counseling licensure-only program. Information about the school social work specialty can be found here.