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Regents approve Rural Mental Health Institute for Texas A&M-Kingsville

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Dr. Steve Bain

Dr. Steve Bain

KINGSVILLE (November 22, 2022) — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents recently approved the establishment of the Institute for Rural Mental Health Initiatives (IRMHI) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Dr. Steve Bain, former dean of the College of Education and Human Performance, is the founding director.


“Texas A&M-Kingsville is the natural place for the Institute for Rural Mental Health Initiatives,” Bain said. “Geographically, TAMUK is located within the South Texas region which encompasses a variety of rural counties, most of which have little to no mental health professionals or adequate services.


“Academically, TAMUK is one of the leading educational institutions, in both Texas and the United States, preparing students in the fields of psychology, sociology, social work and clinical mental health counseling from rural perspectives. With graduate programs in both the College of Education and Human Performance and the College of Arts and Sciences geared toward rural mental health, the university is best suited to prepare mental health professionals to address these contemporary issues.”


The university offers master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling through the College of Education and Human Performance and social work and counseling psychology through the College of Arts and Sciences.


“I believe the institute will impact our South Texas region and the state of Texas as we advocate for availability and accessibility of mental health resources for rural populations; drive mental health policy initiatives and reform at both the state and federal level; provide the latest in research related to mental health; develop more academic programs related to mental health with emphasis on serving rural peoples; and increase the number of mental health professionals who can serve in rural populations in Texas, the nation and the world,” Bain added.


Students at Texas A&M-Kingsville will serve a very important role in making the IRMHI a success. “While the institute will be housed in the College of Education and Human Performance, it will be a university-wide entity,” he said. “We plan to engage students from any and all the academic programs related to mental health from each of the college at the university. Graduate students will particularly benefit from the partnership connection we have and will establish with our regional school districts as they can complete their counseling practicum and internship hours in these rural communities.”


When tragedy strikes, often there is not enough of an established mental health presence in rural areas to help small communities cope.


“Uvalde and Sutherland Springs are stark indicators of the mental health crisis in rural regions,” Bain said. “While mental ill-health is not the reason people commit horrible crimes, it has to be noted that mental illness is an interrelated issue and not reducible to simple cause and effect. In Texas, the critical need for rural mental health research, advocacy, resources and support is at an unprecedented level.”


Bain said the idea for establishing the institute came from the collaborative work that began with the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland in 2016. “At that time, a group of researchers from a variety of academic fields from Texas A&M-Kingsville and the University of the Highlands and Islands met at the request of and with the support of the Texas A&M University System.


“Of the various types of collaborations, one came to the forefront with the strongest potential: collaboration on global perspectives of rural mental health,” he added.



Category: Arts/Sciences , General Univ , Edu/Kines

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