New England College creates mental health degree program in partnership with state

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 05-21-2023 2:00 PM

Recognizing the overwhelming demand for mental health services in New Hampshire and the resulting long wait periods for patients, New England College has partnered with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to address the workforce shortage.

As part of the initiative, the Henniker-based college has introduced a Bachelor of Arts program in Community Mental Health where students will combine traditional classroom experiences with two paid immersive working experiences or co-ops at mental health facilities that contract with DHHS.

“I am very pleased to connect those NEC students keen on serving the mental health needs of Granite Staters with those professionals around the state working so hard to address the growing challenges associated with mental healthcare,” Wayne Lesperance, president of NEC, said in a statement. “Our partnership with DHHS offers students a meaningful and defined career path where they will earn while they learn as they work towards graduation.”

The program that is set to start in the fall presents students with the opportunity to gain practical experience while earning an income.

Through placements with agencies, each student will commit to working 20 hours per week at a rate of approximately $20 per hour. Their responsibilities will encompass providing client care, supporting community activities and facilitating group counseling sessions.

NEC, which has about 1,000 undergraduate students between its Henniker and Manchester campuses and another 4,000 or so graduate and online students, will contract with ten mental health centers that work with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Steve Arnault, Vice President Clinical Services, Quality and Compliance at the Center for Life Management, a mental health center with locations in Derry and Salem, said the value of the program’s cooperative model cannot be overstated.

““NEC students who work with us will help bridge the gap of a tremendous workforce shortage and help us fulfill our mission to promote the health and well-being of individuals, families and organizations. At the same time, these students will be prepared to more easily move into full-time work with a partner organization once they graduate from NEC,” said Arnault.

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