WNMUSocWkWNMU is working with the NM Expanding Opportunities Program to increase the number of school-based mental health professionalsSocial Work and Counseling Programs Team Up at WNMU to Work with the NM Expanding Opportunities Project

Two Western New Mexico University master’s degree programs, the Master of Arts in Counseling and the Master of Social Work, have teamed with the New Mexico Expanding Opportunities Project (EOP) to support graduate students who plan to provide mental health care in the state’s school system. Sponsored by the NM Department of Education’s Safe and Healthy Schools Bureau, the EOP “aims to recruit and retain school-based mental health (SBMH) professionals to serve the needs of students across New Mexico, focusing on rural and frontier communities with a high percentage of at-risk and vulnerable student populations,” according to the program’s website. The program is funded with a grant from the United States Department of Education.

The EOP funds current graduate students in behavioral health fields as well as SBMH providers that are already licensed. Awardees of the grant are required to commit to working for at least two years in a New Mexico school. While the EOP was originally designed to assist those working in, or planning to work in, rural, high-need schools, the program was recently expanded to allow those in New Mexico’s cities to apply as well.

Many WNMU students who have received the EOP grant are using it as income while completing their graduate degree requirements. Assistant Professor of Counseling William Lane noted that “many of our students are nontraditional students and need to have an income” while working on their master’s coursework, practicum or internship. “It is a really great opportunity for our mental health and behavioral health students,” said Lane.

Adriane Torrez, a WNMU MSW student who is currently enrolled in the EOP, said that the grant money she has received will be a tremendous help when it comes time to complete the 900-hour practicum required for the MSW degree. While she is currently working full time while in the program, once she starts the practicum, she will be working in the school system for part of each day, and the EOP funds will help to compensate for the income she is not earning. Ultimately, Torrez wants to help young people advocate for their needs, and she wants to help parents advocate on their children’s behalf, especially when they face disabilities or other challenges. “There are things you can do to help your kids excel,” she said.

Lane and Assistant Professor of Social Work Cindy Simon are both pleased that WNMU graduate students are eligible for EOP whether they are pursuing a master’s degree in Counseling or in Social Work. Simon noted that the training may be different in the two disciplines, “but when it comes down to it, the code of ethics which drives everyone professionally has all the same elements.” Ultimately, what matters most is the outcome for New Mexico’s children, agreed Lane and Simon. Said Simon, “One of the things that is really great about [the collaboration on the EOP] is that both Dr. Lane and I understand that a rich behavioral health workforce is what is needed, so it doesn’t matter if you go through Social Work or you go through Counseling; what matters is that our K-12 kids can . . . get the help they need from trained and licensed professionals.”

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to editor@grantcountybeat.com. Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.