William Beaumont Army Medical Center is now part of a multi-institutional collaborative formed to address and improve access to mental health services in the El Paso area.

WBAMC along with the University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso have formed the new El Paso Psychology Internship Consortium.

The consortium will train at least six students per year as psychologists to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services in the U.S.-Mexico border region. This year, three of the intern candidates will work in various outpatient settings at WBAMC for one year.

"The U.S. Army is proud to play an integral role in this visionary partnership," said Brig. Gen. Dennis Doyle, commander of William Beaumont Army Medical Center, during an Aug. 24 press conference formally announcing the consortium.

"Opening our doors to share the knowledge of treatment techniques that show success with Soldiers and their families will help to improve regional health options."

Through education and prevention initiatives, the internship consortium is expected to help improve health and promote wellness of the people living in West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the Paso del Norte Health Foundation recently award more than $750,000 to UTEP for the formation of a collaborative partnership that will provide internships for doctoral psychology students to complete the year of supervised training required for their degrees.

"Although the El Paso and (southeast) New Mexico area has doctoral level programs, it has long been without an internship training program for doctoral level providers to complete the final requirements for psychologist licensure," said Dr. Yolanda Kraynick, clinical psychologist with WBMAC Department of Behavioral Health. "The multi-institutional collaboration between Texas Tech, UTEP and WBAMC will create such an opportunity."

El Paso lags behind in behavioral health providers. Kraynick noted that large cities in Texas have an average of one psychologist to every 4,000 residents. El Paso has one psychologist for every 17,000 residents.

"Creating the consortium will provide excellent training for our interns and in turn provide the area with highly trained psychologists precisely in a field that is needed for El Paso and its surrounding areas," Kraynick said.

As part of the consortium, students will intern at the UTEP Counseling Center, the WBAMC Department of Behavioral Health and the Department of Psychiatry at TTUHSC at El Paso. Internships at WBAMC will be available in general mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse treatment, traumatic brain injury and depression.

Once the interns have completed their training in the consortium, they can apply for licensure in the states of their choosing.

"Our sincere hope is that they will choose to remain in the area and expect that several will," Kraynick said.

UTEP Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Psychology John Wiebe, Ph.D., the project's director and the consortium's steering committee chair, said the program has the potential to attract psychology interns from some of the best graduate programs in the country. It will also provide an opportunity for those who have left El Paso to pursue a doctoral degree in professional psychology to return, finish their training, and enter the workforce in the border region.

"The growth of Fort Bliss, combined with this increased awareness (of Soldiers' needs), creates a need that is a challenge for our providers to meet," Kraynick said. "With supervision, the interns will be able to assist our Soldiers in completion of their missions, whether it is returning to deployment-ready status or returning home to loved ones."