Viterbo Awarded $741,201 HRSA Opioid Workforce Expansion Program Grant

Deb Murray

Aug. 12, 2019

Viterbo University has been awarded a $741,201 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Opioid Workforce Expansion Program.

The grant will be used to support Viterbo’s Vital Opioid Instruction through Community-based Experiential (VOICE) initiative, which is designed to increase the number and preparedness of graduate level mental health professionals providing opioid and other substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery services to people of all ages.

Viterbo’s VOICE initiative will support 15 Viterbo Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling students annually, develop and expand internship sites that serve clients in high need and high demand areas, and provide education, activities, and strategies for regional stakeholders involved in the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. It will also enhance the learning experiences for all Viterbo counseling students regarding opioid and other substance abuse.

“The opioid epidemic is devastating for individuals, families, and communities,” said Debra Murray, director of the Viterbo University Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program. “Preparing the next generation of mental health professionals to combat opioid and other substance abuse with evidence-based practice is imperative for everyone.”

VOICE will target the unmet behavioral health and substance abuse needs of underserved populations (i.e., rural, diverse, veterans, homeless, children, adolescents) in western Wisconsin through community partnerships.

“We will be actively engaged with partnering agencies in various communities, working together to better address this critical issue,” Murray said. “Our collaborative partners greatly strengthened our grant proposal.”

Viterbo was the only institution in Wisconsin and one of only 48 institutions in the nation to receive the grant.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” said Viterbo President Glena Temple. “Viterbo’s strong mental health counseling program is ready to help meet the need for opioid and substance addiction counselors and education in the region.”