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School of Social Work and Sociology

Billings campus receives grant to support community mental health clinic

The faculty and staff on the WWU Billings, Montana, campus operate the WWU Mental Health Clinic as a graduate training facility serving the Yellowstone Valley in Montana.

The faculty and staff on the WWU Billings, Montana, campus operate the WWU Mental Health Clinic as a graduate training facility serving the Yellowstone Valley in Montana.

A free mental health clinic operated by the Walla Walla University School of Social Work and Sociology on the Billings, Montana, campus has received a $40,000 grant from the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation.

“We are so blessed to have the support of the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation. Our missions are aligned in reaching the underserved in this area,” said Pamela Bing Perry, associate professor of social work and program coordinator for the master of social work program on the Billings campus.

This is the second grant WWU has received from the foundation. An original three-year DESTRESS grant received by Riverstone Health, St. Vincent Healthcare, and the Billings Clinic helped WWU open the clinic. The two additional grants from the foundation, including the recent $40,000 grant, help fund ongoing clinic operations including an intake coordinator, a clinical supervisor, office supplies, and administrative costs, such as a clinician security system and digital therapy record system.

Invaluable experience
Since it opened in March 2015, the clinic has seen steady growth in response to the needs of the community. The clinic functions as part of the School of Social Work and Sociology by providing valuable counseling experience for master of social work students who work under the guidance of licensed supervisors. The students who work at the clinic have served approximately 400 people with several thousand appointments.

“We have been growing since we opened our doors,” said Bing Perry. “The students have the ability to have their own caseload of clients and get lots of good clinical supervision and interaction while also providing valuable support to people who otherwise would not be able to afford therapy services. Students tell us it is invaluable experience.”

One of the original student clinicians when the clinic opened in 2015 now works in the Billings community as an adoption coordinator. “She told us her experience at the clinic was invaluable in terms of learning experiences and empowered her to take on her current role,” said Bing Perry.

In 2018, the clinic received awards from The Family Tree Center for their support toward ending child abuse and aiding families impacted by incarceration.

Support for the clinic is widespread. In addition to the grant from the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, Bing Perry said, “We also currently receive financial support from the Montana Mental Health Trust Fund, which enables us to provide stipends to the student clinicians.”

With the help of the grant from St. Vincent’s and the additional donations of other generous supporters, WWU master of social work students will be able to assist many more individuals and families in the year ahead.

The WWU School of Social Work and Sociology has campuses in College Place, Washington, and in Billings and Missoula, Montana. To learn more about the school, visit wallawalla.edu/social-work.

Posted April 17, 2019

Last update on February 27, 2019