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Editorial -- Counselors serve people of Wyoming

  1. Suicide costs Wyoming over $175 million annually.

  2. 11 percent of Wyoming high school students attempted suicide in one year.

  3. The Wyoming suicide rate ranks highest of all 50 states, almost double the national average, and is increasing at a faster rate than the nation.

  4. Chronic drinking continues to increase in Wyoming.

  5. Close to 20,000 Wyoming adults live with serious mental illness and about 5,000 children live with serious mental health conditions.

  6. 3 percent of Wyoming high school students were bullied on school property in 2013. The Wyoming Counseling Association (WCA) works diligently to support legislation, which would improve access to public mental health and substance abuse services for Wyoming citizens. Bills were passed in the last two sessions of the Wyoming Legislature, which increase access to services for citizens who qualify for Medicaid services. In addition, the WCA supported a budget request from the University of Wyoming to reinstate a Master of Counseling program at the University of Wyoming at Casper. Most of the 25 students are not able to move to Laramie for two years of full-time schooling and work while attending the three-year cohort graduate program in Casper. The reinstated program will draw students from a broad swath of the state and educate them through intensive weekend, videoconference, and online courses, in a manner best suited to nontraditional students. Upon graduation, these professional counselors will work in mental health centers, schools, colleges, private practices, military, and other venues/agencies throughout the state providing much needed mental health services. A unique aspect of this Master of Science Counseling degree is the partnership with Casper College. Completing the coursework through Casper College’s nationally accredited addictionology program would further prepare the counselor education master’s students to sit for the National Masters Addiction Counselor Exam (MAC) opening the professional pathway to become a licensed addictions therapist in the State of Wyoming. The term “Licensed Professional Counselor” is protected by state law, so there should be no confusion when consumers seek out a proactive approach to mental health. Professional counselors are passionate, diverse, and committed to helping people from all walks of life and all depths of despair to survive and thrive in today’s world. Janet L. de Vries is the president of the Wyoming Counseling Association (wyocounselingassociation.com). April is Counseling Awareness Month.

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