MSU Texas West College of Education receives federal grant

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 3:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Last week, U.S. Senator John Cornyn announced that Midwestern State University’s West College of Education was the recipient of a federal grant totaling $136,863.

This grant is the first installment of a $1.3 million federal grant for the training of school counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals qualified to provide school-based mental health services.

“We have two different tracks,” Helmcamp said. “We have a clinical mental health track for students wanting to get their license, their license professional counselor to work in the community. We also have the school counseling track where students are trained to become school counselors, but they can also go on and get their license as well. So, they can be school counselors and licensed professional counselors.”

The five-year grant will also help students in the Burkburnett Independent School District, by improving the school counseling guidance program at the district.

Assistant Professor of Counseling Wendy Helmcamp, the principal investigator on the project, said that MSU Texas will collaborate with Burkburnett ISD in the school-based mental health partnership which will increase the number of school or clinical mental health counselors.

“I have three goals for kids,” Helmcamp said. “I want them to increase their attendance. I want them to decrease their behavior referrals and I want their overall wellness, their mental health to improve by getting extra counseling in the schools.”

Helmcamp said that I.C. Evans Elementary School, Burkburnett Middle School, Burkburnett High School, and Gateway Alternative Education Center will benefit from Project School Mental Health.

“The Burkburnett ISD serves a total of 2,213 students. The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1,” Helmcamp said. “Currently, all of the Burkburnett ISD schools are over the recommended ratio. Today’s students struggle frequently with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and would benefit from individualized mental health support by having access to an additional counselor at their school.”

The project goals are to increase attendance for at-risk students, lower behavior problems and behavior referrals, and help students improve their overall mental health. MSU Texas will train graduate students in inclusive and culturally responsive practices, ensuring access to services for more students.

Graduate students selected to participate will receive assistance with tuition and fees, childcare expenses, background check, and testing fees, and a modest salary and transportation assistance to Burkburnett during their third year of internship.