NY awards $4 million scholarship to 'diversify' state's mental health industry
Priority was given to students of 'Hispanic, Latinx, Spanish origin, or are Native American, Alaska Native, Black, African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.'
The inaugural 11 student recipients were announced as part of the state's plan to 'ensure that all communities are well-served by our public health care system.'
On April 11, New York Governor Kathy Hochul revealed the first 11 student beneficiaries of a $4 million scholarship designed to increase minority representation in the state’s mental health field.
Awarded to students from six campuses of the SUNY (State University of New York) and CUNY (City University of New York) systems, the scholarship program was first announced by the governor’s office last August after the state received a federal grant from the Biden administration.
To qualify for the financial aid, students must be “multilingual; enrolled in a language-specific degree program; or are of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Latinx, Spanish origin, or are Native American, Alaska Native, Black, African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.”
”This partnership will provide incentives for underrepresented students to enroll or remain in mental health programs - helping diversify our future workforce and ensure that all communities are well-served by our public health care system,” said Hochul upon unveiling the scholarship program last year.
”Through this partnership with SUNY and CUNY, we are taking a crucial step towards creating a public health care system that is truly reflective of the communities it serves,” the governor recently remarked.
According to Hochul’s office: ”The mental health field, like many medical professions, is experiencing significant shortages of clinicians, in particular clinicians who are multi-lingual, which continues to drive disparities in access, quality, and treatment for those who are not proficient in the English language.”
The scholarship program is not only intended to reduce such health disparities, but to also do so in a “culturally relevant way.”
In last year’s announcement of the scholarship plan, the governor’s office asserted that: “Minority health care providers are more likely to meet the needs of underserved populations, with a diverse workforce resulting in greater patient and client satisfaction, engagement, and retention in care.”
SUNY Chancellor John King backed the state’s program, citing the need to ”overcome the underrepresentation of students of color in mental health professions” and to ensure that the field is “welcoming to all.”
One of the scholarship recipients, a psychology student at Purchase College in Westchester County, expressed gratitude for the program.
“Psychology is such a predominantly white field that it’s unlikely for people of color to find someone that understands their struggle as a Black or Hispanic person or person of color,” she stated. “And so, I want to represent my community but help people also feel safe and understood by someone that reflects them.”
New York is expected to award additional scholarship recipients across other SUNY and CUNY campuses in the future.
Campus Reform contacted the governor’s office and other relevant parties for additional comment on how increasing diversity will directly improve mental health. This story will be updated accordingly.