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West Virginia Wesleyan to launch master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with $1.2 million investment by Aetna Better Health of W.Va., Community Care of W.Va.

BUCKHANNON, W.V. – West Virginia Wesleyan College today announced its intention to develop a new master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling made possible through a collaborative $1.2 Million project investment from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia and Community Care of West Virginia.

Community Care has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wesleyan to support the program and offer positions to each student who completes the degree, after accreditation approval.

West Virginia significantly trails the nation in mental and behavioral healthcare providers. On average, the United States has at least one mental and behavioral healthcare provider for every 400 people, whereas West Virginia only has one for every 770 people.

“This is a great opportunity for West Virginia Wesleyan to work with key partners to serve our community while providing a degree that will ensure a successful career path for our students,” said Dr. James Moore, Interim President of West Virginia Wesleyan College. “Both Aetna and Community Care of West Virginia should be commended for making this great program possible.”

For several months, Aetna has been working directly with Community Care of West Virginia to identify the greatest needs for the region in which the healthcare organization serves. A higher education institution with a long history of advanced degrees in healthcare was needed to develop the bridge to a solution.

“A key part to Aetna’s mission is helping to build resources in the communities we serve,” said Todd White, CEO of Aetna Better Health of West Virginia. “West Virginia Wesleyan will be able to deliver the advanced education needed by organizations like Community Care of West Virginia to have the highest quality of healthcare professionals to serve patients.”

As the second-most rural state in the country, the low population density creates a unique set of challenges in caring for the population. Additionally, West Virginia has consistently witnessed the nation’s highest rate of illegal drug overdose deaths.

“Community Care of West Virginia is proud of the role our organization is taking in this effort,” said Dr. Liam Condon, a psychologist with Community Care of West Virginia. “Our commitment to hire each graduate of Wesleyan’s new master’s program will help retain high-quality healthcare providers right here in the region where they are needed most for our patients.”

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