CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is accepting applications for the state’s new Mental Health Loan Repayment Program.
The commission says the program was created by the Legislature and approved by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice last year to keep licensed mental health professionals in practice and stay in underserved communities around the Mountain State.
These loans were designed to provide repayment for graduates of accredited programs in exchange for a service commitment, according to the WV HEPC.
Officials say those who apply must be employed in an underserved area of West Virginia and must be currently providing individual and group therapy or counseling for a majority of their practice.
“We are tremendously grateful to be able to provide this vital financial aid, which will help retain critically needed mental health providers in historically underserved areas of the state. Mental health needs are acute in West Virginia, particularly in some of our most isolated and rural areas – and particularly right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. By offering currently practicing mental health providers this incentive to stay, we’re doing more than ever to strengthen West Virginians’ access to the services they need.”Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor for Higher Education
The applications are due by Jan. 4, 2021. Award decisions will be announced in early February and 30 applicants may win.
Eligible applicants for the $10,000 award include:
- Licensed certified social workers
- Licensed independent clinical social workers
- Licensed professional counselors
- Licensed marriage and family therapists
- Licensed master’s and doctoral clinical psychologists
Officials with the Commission’s Division of Health Sciences say applicants must have educational debt in at least the amount of the loan repayment award.
The awards decisions are based on a competitive review process and recommendations of an advisory panel. Other selection factors include a commitment to practice in an underserved area and professional recommendations.