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Mary Bea Drummond | 918-594-8223

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Sean Kennedy | 918-594-8360

OSU professor will aid Oklahoma Department of Corrections with mental health workforce development

TULSA, Okla. -- Richard Wansley, Ph.D., associate professor of Behavioral Sciences at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, has received a 12-month, $100,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for a project, entitled “A Workforce Development Program for Correctional Mental Health Services in Oklahoma.” 

The grant supports collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and includes arranging for students enrolled in university-based behavioral health programs to receive a portion of their training in DOC facilities, with mentoring by DOC psychologists. 

“Of the more than 25,000 inmates in Oklahoma’s correctional facilities, 50 percent have a history of, or are currently exhibiting some form of mental health problem.  Nearly 80 percent of women in Oklahoma’s prisons have a diagnosable mental illness or a mental health problem that requires treatment,” Wansley says.

Support for research on correctional mental health issues is also part of the project’s scope of work. Wansley will serve as the primary administrator for the research and will be a co-investigator in each funded project. “The Program aims to link Oklahoma academics  with DOC mental health services in order to create a pipeline of graduates who may wish to practice as a correctional mental health provider, and also provides students with extraordinary learning experiences, dealing with complex and, sometimes, serious mental health problems,” he says.

Students who participate in the practicum training experiences in DOC facilities are currently assigned to the Joseph Harp Correctional Center, Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, and the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center for Women. Wansley says small grants will be made available to fund faculty-student projects in response to priority interests of the DOC’s Division of Mental Health Services.  The priorities include issues such as validating the incidence of mental illness among incarcerated offenders, defining the professional development needs for DOC behavioral health specialists, and other topics. 

Academic programs now associated with the project include OSU-Stillwater (Psychology); OU-Norman (Counseling Psychology); OU-Norman (Social Work); Oklahoma City University (Psychology–LPC); and the University of Tulsa (Clinical Psychology).  Each program has one or more faculty members who participate in the Training Taskforce along with DOC psychologists. 

Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa offers programs in osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences and forensic sciences. Since its beginnings more than 30 years ago, OSU-CHS has grown to offer nine graduate degrees. On-campus programs, distance learning and OSU partnerships train osteopathic physicians, research scientists and health care professionals with an emphasis on serving rural and under-served Oklahoma. OSU operates six clinics, five in Tulsa and one in Enid. More information about OSU Center for Health Sciences is available at www.healthsciences.okstate.edu.

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