Engaged Learning

School of Education Partners with Kaiser Permanente

The School of Education partners with the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Scholars Academy to train clinicians committed to advance equity in the mental health field.

by Lisa Klope, School of Education

The USF School of Education is pleased to partner with the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Scholars Academy to prepare highly qualified mental health clinicians committed to advancing equity and social justice.

In 2020, fifteen Kaiser Permanente employees were accepted to the School of Education and began classes last fall to earn their Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy.

“Our partnership with USF for the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Scholars Academy will help address the projected shortages in mental health professionals,” says Dr. Dan Gizzo, California Director of the Mental Health Scholars Academy. “Our shared values with regard to equity, inclusion, and diversity in mental health professions will help us work together toward the goal of a California mental health workforce that is as diverse as our state and communities.”

Scholars complete USF’s program over the course of three years and receive financial assistance through Kaiser Permanente. Courses are offered at USF’s locations in San Francisco, the South Bay, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Upon graduation from the USF Marriage and Family Therapy program, students are invited to apply for paid fellowship positions as part of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Post-Masters Mental Health Fellowship program.

“Too many people who need and would benefit from therapy are not able to access it, due to cost, lack of competent therapists, and other barriers,” says Dr. Lisa De La Rue, assistant professor of counseling psychology. “This partnership represents an important step in increasing access to therapy and mental health services.”

The program is particularly timely as clinicians in California continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and anticipate the pandemic’s long term impact on mental health. “So many people are experiencing extreme challenges right now,” explains Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, assistant professor of counseling psychology. “People are isolated. People are grieving. There is less social interaction. People have not had the opportunity to grieve the loss of their loved ones. We are seeing an increase in depression and anxiety. There is a lot that we as mental health clinicians need to be prepared for after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The training the Mental Health Scholars Academy participants are receiving now will position them to be ready to meet this need. “Although the need is going to be great, Kaiser Permanente will have talented clinicians to tackle these challenges and to help folks heal,” says Hernandez-Arriaga.

For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Scholars Academy please contact schoolofeducation@usfca.edu