Psychology Professionals of Tomorrow

The Psychology Professionals of Tomorrow (PPT) program is designed to cultivate undergraduate minority students’ interests in, and preparation for, graduate-level studies leading to mental health provider credentials. In this, our pilot year, we are laying the foundation for a years-long endeavor that will demystify clinical psychology and mental health counseling as career options for students of color, and will surround them with resources and support to help them pursue graduate study and rewarding internship experiences serving the very communities from which they hail.

Background:

 

In September 2020, the National Council for Behavioral Health called upon Congress to take action to prevent “a second public health epidemic”—a reference to the diminished systemic capacity for mental health services accompanied by ballooning demand (Majlessi, 2020). As COVID-19 continues to upend our economy and society, the demand for mental health services has reached a crisis point. This crisis of care is exacerbated in underserved, immigrant, and of color communities, where there is not only diminished service delivery, but also a lack of providers who represent the diversity of experiences present in this population. Finding appropriate therapy services was difficult for clients of color even before COVID-19, and we are now witnessing clinical services being absolutely maxed out with lengthy, unreasonable waitlists. The need for additional, qualified providers persists, but there is also a dire need for increased inclusion among practitioners for people from these underserved communities of care who are most impacted by these disparities. According to 2017 estimates, 80% of all psychologists are white, as is 61% of all mental health counselors (“Psychologists,” 2017).