A statewide strategy to increase Spanish-language mental health services has proven so successful the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is investing an additional $1.5 million to extend the program three more years.
The foundation pays tuition and fees for new bilingual students entering graduate social work programs in Texas. In return, students agree to provide mental health services in Texas for a period equal to the timeframe of the scholarship.
In just two years, the foundation already has awarded 82 scholarships.
"Texas has a shortage of mental health workers, especially those who speak languages other than English. These scholarships are producing a new generation of social workers who have the education, training, cultural awareness and language skills needed to help fill that gap," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the foundation.
The foundation's goal is to increase linguistic diversity in the Texas mental health workforce. Beginning this fall, the foundation has broadened the program to include languages other than Spanish that are prevalent in the community. The University of Houston, for example, plans to accept scholarship recipients who speak Vietnamese or Mandarin, languages that are prevalent in Houston.
In 2010, the University of Texas at El Paso became the 12th school in the program. Participating graduate schools must be accredited or pending accreditation by the national Council on Social Work Education.
The program is creating opportunities for academic collaboration at participating schools, said Program Officer Rick Ybarra, who manages the scholarship program.
"Beginning this year, we added a new funding component to support mentoring, professional development and networking among faculty and students," Ybarra said.
For example, the foundation invited scholars and faculty mentors to meet in Houston in October for networking and professional development during the annual conference of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
"Bringing all these students together in one place really brought home the success of these scholarships in developing the next generation of mental health providers in Texas," Ybarra said.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to improve mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.
Fall 2010 Bilingual Scholarship Recipients
Baylor University: Xiomara O'Neil, Colombia; Beatriz Ramos, McAllen; Andrew Trujillo, Greeley, Colo.; Emily Ventura, Beaufort, S.C.
Our Lady of the Lake University: Analy Garcia-Galvan, Atascosa; Juana Subias, Houston
Texas AandM University Commerce: Lizette Flores, Jonestown; Alma Ramirez, Kaufman; Mayra Vargas, Dallas
Texas State University San Marcos: Sable Galindo, Kyle; Veronica Soto, Austin; Cecilia Actis and Erika Gomez, San Marcos
University of Houston: Maria Cano, Pearland; Yuliana Medina, Channelview
University of Texas at Arlington: Damaris Mosharaf, Irving; Chris Winton, Fort Worth
University of Texas at Austin: Elizabeth Harvey, Austin; Kathleen Sophie Hedrick, Dallas
University of Texas at El Paso: Velia Herren, Vado, N.M.; Claudette Barragan, Daisey Lobatos and Rachel Orduno, El Paso
University of Texas Pan American: Christopher Diaz, Brownsville; Emerardo Longoria, Jr., Mission; Maribel Barcenas and Faustino Ceballos, Weslaco
University of Texas at San Antonio: Federico Cantu, San Antonio; Jennifer Quiñones, Helotes
Note: Abilene Christian University and Stephen F. Austin State University will award scholarships in the spring 2011 semester.