CHADRON – Chadron State College graduate students pursuing a Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree will have the opportunity to apply for $10,000 stipends thanks to a $490,500 award CSC received from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN).

The award application, written by Dr. Tara Wilson and Dr. Grant Sasse, focused on behavioral workforce development.

“It is very exciting. This opportunity will support our students as they complete an intensive internship as part of their training program,” Wilson said.

BHECN received American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds from the state legislature and they're utilizing it to further their efforts to expand efforts to recruit and retain behavioral health professionals in Nebraska.

According to Wilson, 52 percent of the BHECN funds from ARPA went to rural communities.

“That demonstrates how BHECN is committed to building the rural behavioral health workforce. Also, the legislature is aware of the current need for behavioral health,” Wilson said.

CSC students pursuing a Clinical Mental Health master’s degree are required to complete a 600-hour internship. The entire program takes about six semesters for a full-time graduate student without any prior graduate coursework. To apply for the stipend, email [email protected] or call 308-432-6043.

“Our students in their internships are less likely to be able to maintain employment outside of the required internship. These stipends from the award will help our currently enrolled students complete the program and also recruit additional students into our degree program,” Wilson said.

She anticipates that many of the stipends will go to CSC students who have completed their undergraduate degrees and then enrolled straight into the Clinical Mental Health master’s degree program. Students can apply to the clinical mental health graduate program with an undergraduate degree in any field.

Other types of students that Wilson anticipates being interested include non-degree-seeking adults.

“We see a lot of school counselors who have the bulk of their clinical coursework completed and come back to finish requirements to be eligible for licensure.,” she said.

If a student already has a school counseling degree, completing the clinical mental health degree would be shorter due to having much of the coursework completed already.

“We also have students who come back after having a successful career in another field and now want to enter the clinical world. COVID-19 increased overall awareness of the importance of mental health. A career in clinical mental health is a way to give back,” Wilson said. “Counseling is an incredibly fulfilling job. You go home each day knowing you've made a difference for your clients,” Wilson said.

Common sites where CSC students finish their internships in the Chadron area include Education Service Units, Options in Psychology, Pathways to Wellness, A Touch of Hope Therapy, and Western Nebraska Behavioral Health.

“We also have a lot of students who work with individual practitioners. Typically, our students are offered employment after a successful internship, so students often have a job waiting for them if they want it,” Wilson said.

The deadline for CSC to use the funds is December 2025.