As the Ballmer Institute for Childhood Behavioral Health at the University of Oregon celebrates its one-year anniversary, it takes a big step forward by hiring its first Executive Director.
Founded in 2022 with a $425 million donation from Connie and Steve Ballmer, the institute’s goal is to improve the behavioral health of Oregon’s children and adolescents by offering a new mental health bachelor’s degree. and improve health.
There is a nationwide shortage of experts in the field, according to new executive director Kate McLaughlin. She hopes that the Ballmer Institute will not only help fill some of these gaps, but that the Institute and her UO will inspire other universities around the country.
Here’s what you need to know about the Ballmer Institute and the latest developments in the program.
1. Meet Katie McLaughlin
McLaughlin, now a professor of psychology at Harvard University and director of the Institute for Stress and Development, has been appointed the new executive director of the Ballmer Institute. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in how environmental experiences affect the development of children and adolescents.
“I am most concerned with the enormous potential that this initiative will have for children and families not only in the Pacific Northwest, but indeed across the country,” McLaughlin said. The idea of training health professionals is completely new in the United States, and no one has tried it before.”
McLaughlin will take office in August. Randy Kamphaus, former Dean of the UO College of Education, has been Acting Executive Director since March.
UO interim president Patrick Phillips said McLaughlin fits the university and institute’s vision for the direction of the program.
“It’s not just an academic scholarship,” Phillips said, “it’s her commitment that is reflected in the work she does and the work she does, and the behavior (and) mental health of children.” She’s one of the best in the country, and we feel very lucky to have her join us.”
2. The first of its kind
The Ballmer Institute program is the first undergraduate behavioral health degree program of its kind in the country.
In December, UO received formal approval from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Board to produce a Bachelor of Science in Child Behavioral Health.
Graduates will be the first students in the United States to be fully trained at the undergraduate level to provide a wide range of behavioral health services, including screening and early detection of mental health disorders. Early diagnosis of conditions such as ADHD, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can help young people and their families navigate mental health services and find the most appropriate resources.
“Existing undergraduate programs don’t offer[that],” McLaughlin said. “They don’t provide clinical training for undergraduates to graduate from college and actually serve in the community.”
The need for mental health professionals and interventions, especially those specializing in youth services, is urgent. The number of young people who need specialized mental health care far exceeds the number of professionals who provide it, leaving families with little or no choice and months or years without care. It’s left McLaughlin said the situation was at a “breaking point”.
McLaughlin said this has been going on for more than a decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these needs.
She said training mental health professionals at the undergraduate level is an “incredibly promising solution” and has been successful in other countries such as the UK.
“We have very good evidence that this can work. It can help identify children who may be suffering from behavioral health problems and prevent those problems.” It shows that a college degree is well-trained to be a front-line provider of potential skills-based interventions, and it doesn’t get worse over time,” McLaughlin said. .
3. Headquarters in Portland
The Ballmer Institute will be based at the new UO Portland campus in northeastern Portland.
This 19-acre campus was formerly Concordia University in Portland. UO he bought in March for $60.5 million. Minimal renovation was required to meet UO’s needs. So the Ballmer Institute is already preparing to move in.
The campus will house the academic and management programs and research center of the Ballmer Institute. The building is scheduled to open to classes by fall 2023.
Ballmer Institute has multiple community partners, including Portland Public Schools. Undergraduates are supervised by a faculty of trained clinical professors and act as behavioral health trainees at the school.
4. Program sign-up has started
Undergraduate and postgraduate level courses will open in 2022. Currently, her 80 teachers across Oregon are taking graduate-level courses aimed at supporting educators in the classroom.
Undergraduate applications for Ballmer Institute’s Child Behavioral Health bachelor’s degree program opened Wednesday. The student enrolls in the major for her final two years and begins the program in the fall.
The number of students interested in the program has yet to be estimated, but psychology has the largest number of students, according to Phillips. McLaughlin expects great interest.
“For 15 years as a professor of psychology, I have worked with undergraduates and taught undergraduates interested in psychology as a discipline,” said McLaughlin. “I would say that my students are really hungry for this kind of training program.”
Miranda Cyr reports on The Register-Guard education. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on her Twitter. @mirandabcyr.