New England College Receives $550K Grant to Expand Mental Health Education

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New England College (NEC) in New Hampshire is poised to make significant strides in mental health education thanks to a substantial grant of $550,000 from NH Healthy Families and the Centene Foundation. This funding will bolster NEC’s new cooperative Bachelor of Arts in Community Mental Health program, aimed at addressing the critical shortage of mental health professionals in the region.

Announced recently in the presence of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, the grant will establish a scholarship endowment benefiting students enrolled in the Community Mental Health program. Known as Centene Scholars, these students will receive financial support to pursue their degrees, which uniquely combine classroom learning with practical, paid experiences in mental health settings.

Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance Jr., President of NEC, expressed gratitude for the grant, highlighting its role in empowering students to make a tangible impact in mental health care. The program’s cooperative nature allows students to gain hands-on experience while studying, preparing them to meet the increasing demand for mental health services in New Hampshire and beyond.

Clyde White, Plan President and CEO of NH Healthy Families, underscored the importance of expanding New Hampshire’s mental health care workforce to enhance access for underserved populations. He emphasized the grant’s alignment with efforts to improve public health by supporting initiatives that address social determinants of health.

Governor Sununu commended Centene for its commitment to strengthening the state’s mental health care system. He noted recent state initiatives aimed at boosting mental health access, highlighting the $134 million investment to attract and retain mental health professionals.

The Centene Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Centene Corporation, focuses on investing in communities facing economic challenges. It supports projects aligned with Centene’s mission to remove barriers to wellness for underserved populations, promoting health equity through healthcare access, social services, and education initiatives.

NEC, founded in 1946, serves over 5,000 students annually across its campuses in Henniker and Manchester. Accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, NEC offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs with an emphasis on experiential learning and liberal arts tradition.

The partnership between NEC, NH Healthy Families, and the Centene Foundation signifies a critical step forward in addressing mental health needs in New Hampshire, ensuring a brighter future for communities statewide.

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