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GSE Team Leads New Project to Provide Mental Health Telehealth Services to Underserved Children and Youth

“Mental health challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and further intensified by the racial injustice and economic inequality in the United States,” said GSE professor of counseling psychology Eric C. Chen, Ph.D., who coordinates the GSE’s Mental Health Counseling Program. Chen will work to alleviate some of this injustice and inequality by serving as the inaugural project director for Clinical Mental Health Services in the Bronx Community (CCMH), an initiative being funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for 2021.

GSE CCMH graduate student counselors (clockwise from bottom left); Jolene Trimm, Gabriela Munoz De Zubiria, Yangqian Shen, Cindy Molina, Jamez Amour Anderson

The new CCMH project aims specifically to provide free telehealth mental health services for Black, Latino and immigrant children and youth in the Bronx, a group which often has divergent and complicated needs and issues, especially amid the pandemic. The generous funding from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation (more than $20,000 each over 12 months) will allow the five selectively chosen Division of Psychological and Educational Services graduate assistants pictured above to serve these individuals:

  • Jamez Amour Anderson (Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Program)
  • Cindy Molina (School Psychology Ph.D. Program)
  • Gabriela Munoz De Zubiria (Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program)
  • Yangqian Shen (Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program)
  • Jolene Trimm (School Psychology Ph.D. Program)

Professor Eric C. Chen, Ph.D.

Chen emphasized, “With support from and in collaboration with the project’s two part-time staff members, Laura Guy, LCSW-R (Outreach and Program Coordinator) and Robert Garvey (Administrative Assistant) hired for the CCMH project, these five graduate assistants will have the opportunity to receive training and supervision while working with children, adolescents, and their parents through assessment, individual counseling, and psycho-educational groups.” He added, “Participation in the project will include presentation at professional conferences and publication of the project’s outcome. I am confident these five qualified and dedicated graduate students, with their unique backgrounds, training, experiences and goals, will form a cohesive group to support one another and the youth and families they will serve in the future, in keeping with Fordham GSE’s Jesuit traditions and social justice missions.”

According to Guy, who until recently served as a Clinical Supervisor and Program Director at the Montefiore School Health Program in the Bronx, this project couldn’t come at a better time to serve the borough’s marginalized communities. “The underserved communities here largely receive mental health care through schools, hospitals, and community clinics, all of which have been impacted by closures and diversion of resources due to the impact of the pandemic. This has created instability and inconsistency in services, further contributing to mental health inequity,” said Guy.

CCMH project graduate assistant and school psychology Ph.D. student Jolene Trimm is excited about doing this work. Trimm notes that in her work thus far as a school psychologist, she has found that most BIPOC children report particular challenges related to the pandemic, including loss of their social, educational, medical, and mental health access support networks. She added that increased likelihood of COVID-19 illness for these students and their families, combined with disproportionate access to resources, highlights a significant racial justice issue.

“Through the CCMH project, we will be addressing one of the most poignant racial justice issues highlighted by the pandemic – access to health care – particularly mental health care,” Trimm emphasized. “In addition, the free telehealth services we provide will utilize technology to remove the cost barriers related to appointment fees or commuting, too. Services can be provided anywhere as long as a child has access to the Internet. This is important, innovative work, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Finally, Trimm said that it was Fordham’s reputation for academic rigor and the GSE Graduate School of Education’s social justice and equity missions that brought her to the school psychology Ph.D. program, which strongly aligns with her personal and professional goals. She concluded, “I believe this program can help me develop into a competent and well-rounded clinician in the context of social justice and equity goals, surrounded by a brilliant group of my colleagues and peers. An opportunity like the CCMH project, generously funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, is just one great example of why this is true.”

Read more about all of the CCMH team members here, and learn more about professor Chen.


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