Community Health Worker Shortage = $1.2 Million Grant for Training at STLCC
The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded a $1.2 million grant to St. Louis Community College to expand its training program for community health workers and to increase the number of students enrolled in the behavioral health associate degree program.
There are career opportunities for community health workers in the St. Louis area because there’s an urgent need for more behavioral health paraprofessionals in Missouri.
“There is a behavioral health staffing shortage in the St. Louis area and behavioral health is struggling to meet community needs,” said Laurie Hawkins, senior health program manager for STLCC’s Workforce Solutions Group.
What is a community health worker?
A community health worker is professionally trained to connect people in the community with health care resources. They are advocates who represent the communities they serve.
As non-licensed frontline public health workers, they are liaisons to health care, behavioral health, criminal justice, education and social services.
Community health workers may work in health care centers, social service organizations, health outreach, patient navigation, health advocacy and education, Hawkins said.
“These extreme behavioral health staffing shortages in Missouri, coupled with a state drug overdose death rate that is higher than the national average, has fueled the urgent need for more comprehensive and progressive training,” Hawkins said.
Becoming a community health worker
STLCC’s community health worker training program now offers a virtual, evening program for anyone interested in a career as a community health worker in behavioral health. The non-credit training prepares individuals with classes twice a week – Tuesday and Thursday – from 6-9 p.m. The new program started July 5 with 24 students who will graduate in November.
Tuition, learning materials and supplies are provided.
The program includes classroom instruction and community-based service-learning. Topics will cover public health, health equality, cultural sensitivity, mental health, trauma, substance abuse, violence prevention, crisis intervention, care management and more.
To be eligible for the community health worker training program, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Submit an application, resume and cover letter; be selected to interview.
- Demonstrate academic and career readiness.
- Demonstrate a passion for serving the community.
- Be employed, or commit to being employed, within the behavioral health workforce.
- The Regional Health Commission estimates that between 25,900 and 36,200 people in the St. Louis region are in serious need of mental health services, and more than 50,690 people have an unmet need for substance treatment.
- Local needs assessments in St. Louis City and the greater region suggest that depression has the highest lifetime prevalence rate of any mental health disorder, affecting approximately 20% of individuals.
- Studies also estimate that 24% of children and youth in St. Louis have a mental health disorder.
For more information about becoming a community health worker, contact Katy Reynolds, project associate, firstname.lastname@example.org.