In a press conference Friday, West Virginia Wesleyan College announced a new Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, funded through a $1.2 million investment from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia and Community Care of West Virginia.
In addition, Community Care of West Virginia will support the program by offering job positions to each student who completes the program.
“This is a great opportunity for West Virginia Wesleyan to work with key partners to serve our community while providing a degree that will ensure a successful career path for our students,” said Dr. James Moore, interim president of West Virginia Wesleyan College. “Both Aetna and Community Care of West Virginia should be commended for making this great program possible.”
Aetna and Community Care of West Virginia collaborated to identify the greatest needs for the regions they serve and found that West Virginians need mental health care.
“A key part to Aetna’s mission is helping to build resources in the communities we serve,” said Todd White, CEO of Aetna Better Health of West Virginia. “West Virginia Wesleyan will be able to deliver the advanced education needed by organizations like Community Care of West Virginia to have the highest quality of healthcare professionals to serve patients.”
West Virginia’s low population density creates a unique set of challenges in caring for the population. Additionally, West Virginia has consistently witnessed the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths. Once they’d identified the problem, the answer was clear: a higher education institution with a long history of advanced degrees in healthcare was needed to develop the bridge to a solution.
According to a press release, West Virginia significantly trails the nation in mental and behavioral healthcare providers. On average, the United States has at least one mental and behavioral healthcare provider for every 400 people, whereas West Virginia only has one for every 770 people.
“Community Care of West Virginia is proud of the role our organization is taking in this effort,” said Dr. Liam Condon, a psychologist with Community Care of West Virginia. “Our commitment to hire each graduate of Wesleyan’s new master’s program will help retain high-quality healthcare providers right here in the region where they are needed most for our patients.”
(article courtesy of The Inter-Mountain)