Detroit Mercy counseling program receives vital grant

The University of Detroit Mercy’s counseling program has been awarded a $862,000 grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to continue its important work in addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of people in the community. This grant is part of a project designed by Dr. Nancy Calleja, Professor and Department Chair, which will run through 2025. 

The project provides specialized training to master’s level counseling students and community-based clinical supervisors, with a focus on the complex needs of the most vulnerable adolescents and young adults in our area.  

Calleja said, “The grant money is to increase the behavioral health workforce particularly for those who are especially trained to work with vulnerable individuals.” 

This new grant announcement follows two similar previously highly successful grants awarded to UDM, which now has provided $2.5 million in funding since 2014.  

Calleja said, “The fact that we received this grant three times is a testament to who we are at Detroit Mercy and who we are as a graduate counseling program.”  

Calleja is now armed with the finances necessary to help a lot of people in need.   

Calleja explained that since COVID many therapy-based practices have been taken online. This movement has not changed since COVID and Calleja believes with a passion that face-to-face therapy is needed. The issue is that many people who have challenging needs do not have the ability to go online. Many individuals are located in places that do not have access to computers, like many mental health or juvenal detention centers.  

Since online therapy has become so popular and a destination for most graduating students, the grant is intended to reinforce face-to-face therapy.  

Calleja said, “How I designed this particular project is to encourage and incentivize therapists to work with those who need it most and the priority on face-to-face settings.”  

One goal is to create interest for more students to enter the workforce working with patients in a more personal setting. 

The challenge is that many jobs for online therapies are very profitable and enticing to graduating students.  

Calleja said, “There are so many jobs available that are quite lucrative for our graduating students to work online and many therapists in the field have chosen to go into jobs where they work solely and exclusively online.”  

COVID created this movement and since it has become customary to many, it is hard to break the trend.  

This grant will be a powerful tool for UDM to re-establish the need for personal therapy. 

Calleja said, “What we have been able to do particularly in Detroit and the surrounding community of the university is completely transform the behavioral healthcare workforce.” 

Detroit and the community will benefit significantly from the funding from this new grant. 

UDM is the only establishment in Michigan to receive this type of grant and nationwide UDM is the only one to receive it three times. It is going to ensure that the community has more mental therapists who are specifically trained to work with individuals with complex needs.