Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are looking forward to having 64 more mental health professionals in high-need rural Oklahoma schools as a result of a $5.6 million five-year federal grant. “Project Rural Innovation for Mental health Enhancement,” or PRIME, will pay for counselors, social workers and behavior analysts to attend graduate school, as well as cover program fees and costs. In exchange, graduates agree to serve two years in a rural, high-need school for each year they received program funding. “We have rural districts ready to work together and faculty,” says Brittany Hott, associate professor in the educational psychology department and associate director for the Institute for Community and Society Transformation. “And we’re going to start to address the need of growing your own. So there are teachers who may want to also serve as a behavior analyst or a counselor for a district and work within a cooperative to share a counselor across districts to serve everybody’s needs.”

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