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College of Education > News and Publications > News: April-June 2013 > New Degree Emphasis Focuses on Mental Health in Schools

New Degree Emphasis Focuses on Mental Health in Schools

Elizabeth Mellin, associate professor of education, said that the College's latest master's degree in counseling is especially important given the emerging national dialogue on school mental health.

The Penn State College of Education features six Counselor Education master’s degree options for students who wish to pursue careers in various professions as career counselors, school counselors, and rehabilitation counselors. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Schools and Communities emphasis is the latest to be added to the Counselor Education’s master’s program. The development of this emphasis is especially important given the emerging national dialogue on school mental health.

Elizabeth MellinThis master’s degree program focuses on promoting optimal human development, wellness, and mental health through outreach, prevention, and early intervention strategies in schools and community settings.

Elizabeth Mellin, program coordinator and associate professor of education, said, “I’m particularly proud of this emphasis given its unique focus on children and adolescents and the relationship between learning and mental health.”

Mellin added that the program is truly a one-of-a-kind graduate training opportunity.

“With the recent national conversation on school mental health, I expect it to be a model for other programs who are looking to promote mental health and support learning in schools,” said Mellin. “This program has developed unique training opportunities with the State College Area School District and is helping us sustain the work of our federally funded school and mental health services grant.”

Currently, many local and state governments as well as the federal government are proposing policies pertaining to mental health in schools. In addition, the federal government is proposing significant funding for training master’s level mental health counselors for work in schools.

Counselor trainees in this program are prepared for implementing a wide range of culturally responsive, early intervention, and intervention services to maximize the potential of children, adolescents, adults, and families. They also are trained to provide crisis intervention services to schools, families, and communities and promote social change through the development of cross-system collaborations that contribute to school and community improvement initiatives. Counselor trainees are also prepared to pursue national certification and/or licensure as a professional counselor.

An added feature of the program is the College of Education’s CEDAR Clinic where counselor trainees are provided the opportunity to incorporate counseling theory, skills, and techniques into real-world learning experiences. In the CEDAR Clinic, counselors are exposed to role-playing and genuine counseling situations through practicums.

Penn State’s College of Education looks to lead the way in preparing graduates to support children in this very important area of mental health.

--by Kevin Sliman (June 2013)