SAF funds New Collaborative Pipeline Program for Mental Health Careers

Program will begin in November at TCMC

A new, first of its-kind-collaborative program between The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC), the Women’s Resource Center, and the Center for Independent Living will begin in November due to a $38,000 grant from the Scranton Area Foundation. The new Reach-Hei Health Education Leadership Program (HELP) will run for one year and aims to serve as a pipeline program engaging and motivating high school students to understand opportunities in mental health careers.  The long term goal of HELP is to increase quality mental health providers in northeast Pennsylvania.  In addition to its focus on science, HELP will also aim to develop the students’ understanding of bullying, domestic, peer and sexual violence, and its impact on mental health, families and communities. The program will impact health literacy as students will also be able to identify victims of violence and access local resources available to help.

Laura Ducceschi, President & CEO of the Scranton Area Foundation said, “SAF provided funding for HELP because we believe that collaborative projects which pool talent and regional resources are one of the most efficient ways to address large scale community challenges and make a tangible impact. These outcomes have been demonstrated through REACH-HEI, which further supported that similar objectives will likely be met through HELP with the critical focus on mental health.”

REACH-HEI “HELP” will provide online after-school and Saturday sessions at TCMC for 25 high school sophomores from the Scranton area.   A major component includes participants developing a community project so they can take their message of violence prevention back to their schools. The Reach-Hei program has been successful as a pipeline program in connecting first-generation to college students with careers in health and science. More than 400 local students have completed the program and over 25 are attending a medical school, with five attending TCMC.

Ida L. Castro, Vice President, Community and Government Relations and Chief Diversity Officer at TCMC, who is spearheading the project, said, “They’ll teach their classmates and the community at large that certain behaviors are unacceptable and you don’t have to live with them. There are traits among people who’ve been subjected to long term abuse. As friends and family members, you can save lives by being aware and understanding when people need help.”

Peg Ruddy, Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center said, “This project provides WRC with a unique opportunity to partner with TCMC and local high school students to raise awareness of, and ultimately address, sexual and teen dating violence in our community.”