New William Woods University Partnership Aims to Tackle the National Mental Health Provider Shortage

Do you know the most common cause of death in the United States for kids between the ages of 10 and 24? Suicide.

The Behavioral Health Support Program at State Fair Community College celebrated World Mental Health Day by hosting an event to help raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

The event, hosted at the State Fair campus, featured a screening of the feature-length documentary “Wake Up: Stories from the Frontlines of Suicide Prevention.” Professional filmmaker Nate Townsend wrote and directed the documentary that explores the alarming suicide epidemic in the United States.

The prevalence of suicide and mental health-related concerns are exacerbated by a national shortage of behavioral health providers, with nearly half the population living in shortage areas. Rural areas are especially hard hit. Not only are there fewer mental health care providers in rural areas, there’s also a lack of reliable broadband for telehealth services.

William Woods is partnering with State Fair Community College to help fill that need.  Leaders from both State Fair Community College and William Woods University attended the event to sign an articulation agreement between State Fair Community College’s Behavioral Health Support Program and the Bachelor of Social Work Program at William Woods University. 

Steve Cooper, the director of William Woods University’s Social Work program, said, “Our partnership with State Fair Community College provides an opportunity for students to further their professional development in the field of mental health. Together we have the potential to address the workforce shortage and contribute to improvements in the mental health care system’s ability to respond to the needs of community stakeholders.”

Through this partnership, students can earn their bachelor’s degree in social work at a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program. This pathway leads to licensure as a bachelor-level social worker, as well as graduate education in social work and related fields. 

If you or someone you know is interested in the program, use this link to get more information. If you have any questions, contact Steve Cooper at