Six-Figure Grant To Fund Additional Training for GSSW Students

Awarded for her work in the field of health services and mental health advocacy, Boston College Associate Professor of Macro Practice—an area of study within the Graduate School of Social Work’s (GSSW) Health and Mental Health concentration—Marylou Sudders was named the recipient of a $664,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Distributed among individuals and institutions dedicated to advancing health and safety resources for underserved sections of the U.S. population, HRSA grants are allocated by field of study. For Sudders, the grant will translate to funding GSSW programs for more than 50 students learning to deliver primary care services.

According to a press release through GSSW’s website, Sudders’ grant will be appropriated over the course of two to three years for 53 master’s-level GSSW students, and is scheduled to fund direct training for those students within the areas of behavioral health training in a primary care setting.

“This grant is further proof as to how relevant BC Social Work is, and how we’re effectively working to address the major issues currently affecting our country,” Sudders said in a statement published on the GSSW website. “It will also help to ensure that our students graduate ready to meet the challenges that they will face as members of an evolving workforce, so that they can provide the right care, at the right time, and in the right ways.”

Prior to her joining BC as a full-time faculty member in 2012, Sudders served as the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) after being appointed to the position in February 2003. Under Sudders’ leadership, MSPCC—one of the largest providers of mental health services to children and founded in 1878—expanded its service to publishing policy papers on foster care and influencing state legislature on topics including juvenile courts and family services.

Prior to her post as head of MSPCC, Sudders also served as Commissioner of Mental health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1996 to 2003, through which she acted as the leading spokesperson on mental health issues for the organization.

In the same year of her stepping down as CEO of MSPCC and joining BC full-time in 2012, Sudders was also appointed to the Commonwealth’s Health Policy Commission as a behavioral health expert—a board position charged with overseeing the organization’s expenses and its improvement of quality care.

After graduating cum laude from Boston University with a degree in psychology and earning a master’s degree in social work two years later, Sudders began her career in health services reform as a mental health coordinator in both Waltham, Mass. and Concord, Mass. for 750 clients.

It was not until 2007 when Sudders joined the University as part-time faculty in GSSW, where she instructed courses on mental health planning and financial management. In 2012, she was not only appointed an associate professor, but also named Chair of the Health and Mental Health Concentration in GSSW.

Now, with her research and policy advocacy being carried out at the national level, Sudders’ grant will focus on areas of primary care affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. According to Sudders, the programs and resources administered through the grant’s funding will address the increasing need for a larger primary care workforce by combining the services of social workers and medical practitioners.

“Social workers are the connective tissue that is so critical to providing the kind of holistic care the Affordable Care Act requires,” Sudders said. “More and more, they play prominent roles in primary care settings, and as members of integrated care management teams that work to help individuals to recover and stay well, and then, to contribute to their communities once they’re feeling better.”

The grant is intended to support local healthcare agencies as they continue to adjust their services to meet the mandates set forth by the ACA, and to further develop behavioral health educational resources for GSSW students, with a particular look at how those resources may be best suited for an evolving nation healthcare system.

Sudders noted that she also believes the programming provided by the grant will help graduate-level students take on greater roles within the field of healthcare in the coming years.

“This grant is a fantastic opportunity, both for BC and especially for our students, who will play a major role in the future of healthcare in the United States,” she said.

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Connor Farley was a copy editor and news editor for The Heights. You can probably find him at a Phish show.