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Comprehensive Healthcare gift reestablishes CWU mental health program

Yakima Herald-Republic - 6/3/2024

Jun. 3—A financial gift from Comprehensive Healthcare will reestablish the mental health counseling graduate program at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, officials said.

The gift of nearly $770,000 from Comprehensive to the Central Washington University Foundation will help address the need for behavioral health specialists in the region, according to a news release. It will enable the university to prepare master's-level candidates for graduation, and to work in the community, as early as summer 2026, the release said.

The mental health counseling program provides clinical training to graduate students, so they are later eligible to seek state licensure as mental health counselors. The program was established in the 1970s but went on hiatus in 2023 due to lack of program faculty, officials said.

Funds will be used to hire a team, including two faculty members, one of whom will be the program coordinator, a clinic manager, interim program coordinator and graduate assistants. The gift will also cover some additional operational costs.

Officials said the goal is to start classes in January.

In recent years, community behavioral health organizations have experienced a significant workforce shortage and have been challenged to meet the increasing demand for mental health services in local communities.

Reach Tammy Ayer at tayer@yakimaherald.com.

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