Mental Health Board Creates Scholarship for Black YSU Students in Social Work

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board looks to increase minority representation in the fields of social work and mental health with a new scholarship program.

The Youngstown Chapter of the Links’ Mental Health Studies Scholarship will distribute $5,000 annually to Black students pursuing a degree in social work at Youngstown State University, according to a press release. Full-time students will be eligible for $1,000 and part-time students $500.

Students must carry a 2.5 GPA, be a traditional or non-traditional student, be of African-American descent, attend or plan to attend YSU, reside in Mahoning County and complete the application process.

“We are thrilled to launch this new scholarship program with the support of the Youngstown Ohio Chapter of Links, Incorporated. There is a great need to develop a workforce for our agencies that represents the people we serve, and this is an important step we can take to address it,” said Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

“There is already an increased demand for social workers and mental health professionals and even more so for people of color in those professions,” added Valerie Burney, the board’s community engagement and outreach coordinator. “This new scholarship will allow us to help make a difference in not only the lives of students pursuing a career, but also the community they will eventually serve.”

Click HERE to learn more and apply. Applications are open through April 24, 2022. The first round of scholarships will be awarded in May 2022.

The Youngstown Ohio Chapter of Links, an organization committed to enriching and sustaining the culture and survival of persons of African ancestry in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, is working with the Mental Health Board to help distribute the scholarship funds.

“The board saw a great fit with the Youngstown Chapter of the Links, Incorporated to help us distribute these scholarships,” said board chairman Anne Cobbin. “The reason for this scholarship is that we see education as equity. For African American people it is a force of change for equity and inclusion. As one of the oldest African American non-profit organizations in the country made up of professional black women, they understood the need for equity not just in access to care, but in this case access to education. We’re going to be able to help students who may not have had the opportunity to study in the field of social work to receive that education. It’s an actionable need in this community and that’s what we’re getting with this scholarship from the Mental Health and Recovery Board.”

Jamie Bledsoe, scholarship director and chairman of services to youth for Youngstown Links, will work with the board on the scholarship efforts.

“One of the biggest issues right now is mental health and the disparities in access to care for minorities, especially African Americans,” Bledsoe said. “I think for so long there has been a struggle in the African American community to even talk about mental health issues let alone seek out care. So with this scholarship, we can help to bring about more equity in mental health professions in the Mahoning Valley.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.