Submitted to Editors of the Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming Tribune Eagle (Cheyenne)
Public mental health and substance abuse services are inadequate to meet the needs of Wyoming citizens. Consider some statistics:
- Suicide costs Wyoming over $175 million annually.
- 11% of Wyoming high school students attempted suicide in one year.
- Chronic drinking continues to increase in Wyoming.
- Close to 20,000 Wyoming adults live with serious mental illness.
For a small investment of $190,000, Wyoming can reduce some of its mental health costs. This is a budget request before the Wyoming Legislature from the University of Wyoming to reinstate the University’s Master of Counseling program at the University of Wyoming-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 non-traditional 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 MS Counseling degree is the partnership with Casper College’s nationally accredited addictionology program. It would further prepare the students to become Licensed Addictions Therapists.
The requested funds would pay for two additional faculty placed in Casper, thereby providing improved supervision and quality learning for the students.
In conclusion, the Wyoming Counseling Association requests the Wyoming Legislature’s support in funding this counseling program.
Janet L. de Vries, President
Wyoming Counseling Association