Skip to content

New accelerator collaborative committed to increasing mental health workforce

Students in mental health fields face many challenges between obtaining a degree and a license
Stock image

Kaiser Permanente is teaming up with a team of collaborators including MSU Denver to address the need for mental health professionals in Colorado. The initiative has dedicated $4.2 million in grants to support students bridge the gap between degrees and licensure.

“Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve,” said Mike Ramseier, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “To effectively address the local impacts of the national mental health crisis, we need to develop a communitywide mental health workforce that effectively represents the communities hit hardest.”

One in five Coloradans need mental health services, according to Emily Matuszewicz, director of development and partnerships at the Gina and Frank Day Health Institute at MSU Denver. The state has seen an increase in depression, anxiety, overdoses and suicide. At the same time, the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration estimated that Colorado had double the amount of mental health job vacancies than other areas across the country in 2022. 

Students in mental health fields face many challenges between obtaining a degree and a license including acquiring the required number of clinical hours and cost of study materials and testing. 

“The additional hurdles and costs stop their careers before they start, particularly for underrepresented groups, who may not have established social networks in the industry,” according to a news release from Kaiser Permanente.

MSU Denver is running the accelerator program by securing clinical hour placements, providing supervision for pre- and post-master’s associates and providing study materials. 

The first cohort is made up of 33 participants who will be working with nonprofit and public entities that serve vulnerable populations.

“If we are going to meet our community’s overall health needs, we have to remove as many barriers as we can for the people who want to do those jobs,” said Jeff Krawcek, MD, executive medical director and president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s medical group. “This community-based approach delivers help to many areas of Colorado with the highest needs.”


Macie May

About the Author: Macie May

Macie May has built her career in community journalism serving local Colorado communities since 2017.
Read more