Among the biggest gaps in the region’s healthcare network is accessibility to mental health providers, according to a recent consultant’s report.
This came as no surprise to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Counseling, which recently established the Community Counseling Center, an on-campus facility for the public. The intent is to help ease that shortage and provide training to advanced counseling students.
Now the Lee Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Lee Health, has partnered with FGCU to provide scholarships to high-achieving students enrolled in the mental health counseling master’s program.
“There’s an overwhelming shortage of pediatric behavioral and mental healthcare,” said Chris Simoneau, chief foundation and development officer for Lee Health. To help allay this shortage, the Lee Health Foundation created the Kids’ Minds Matter Restricted Scholarship Fund, and plans to award 10 $5,000 scholarships annually to full-time students enrolled in the master’s program in the Marieb College of Health & Human Services.
“With a partnership with FGCU’s new counseling center and graduate program, we hope to recruit people and retain them while providing the resources for them to graduate with little debt so they can afford to stay and practice in the region,” Simoneau said.
Alise Bartley, the director of the Community Counseling Center and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, said, “We are excited that our students, who work so hard and sacrifice so much to help others who are experiencing mental health issues, have an opportunity to defray some of the cost of going to school. We have a strong candidate pool that has expressed an interest in working with children and families that will begin school in the fall.”