The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, an administrative unit of the University of Texas at Austin, has announced the launch of a bilingual scholarship program that will award up to $1 million over the next three years to students at accredited graduate social work programs in Texas who are fluent in Spanish and English.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, the program is designed to increase the cultural and linguistic diversity of graduate students in the field of mental health. Recipients are required to work in Texas after graduation, providing mental health services for a period equal to that of the scholarship.
The demand for bilingual social workers has been growing steadily. Populations of color are underrepresented in social work and other mental health professions and as a result are far less likely to receive effective mental health services that meet their cultural and linguistic needs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish was the primary language spoken at home in 2006 by 6.2 million people in Texas, where Latinos are the state's largest ethnic population.
"There simply aren't enough bilingual social workers to serve the growing Spanish-speaking population in Texas," said Dr. King Davis, outgoing executive director of the foundation. "These scholarships will achieve two important goals: raise public awareness of the need to build the state's bilingual mental health workforce, and simultaneously begin to meet that need."