For many residents of rural California, attaining higher education can seem out of reach. That’s the case in Amador County, a region southeast of Sacramento where there’s no community college or public university. Residents and research says there’s also a shortage of mental health workers in the county. CapRadio’s Health Care Reporter Sammy Caiola reported on the barriers Amador County residents face in accessing mental health care in her 2018 series, Rural Suicide.
To tackle these shortages, the county is funding a unique scholarship program to provide an educational stepping stone for residents who want to work in the mental health field. Through Amador College Connect, students can enroll in online courses through Coastline Community College in Orange County to pursue a certificate or associate degree in human services. The scholarship program, administered by the Amador Community College Foundation, covers students’ tuition, fees and books.
Since 2014, the county has awarded scholarships to 44 students who want to work in mental health. Preference is given to applicants who have lived experience with mental health issues. Additional support like access to computers and wifi is available through the Amador Economic Prosperity Center, which opened in June 2019.
Sammy spent some time with students in the program as part of the California Dream series on solutions to the challenges facing the state. She joins Insight to discuss and share sound from her reporting on this partnership.