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More mental health care for the region: Ohio University, West Virginia Northern Community College sign articulation agreements

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over half of people in the United States suffering from mental health issues weren't able to get treatment in the past 12 months. This is in part because mental health treatment in jails is scant, straining the mental health care system. OHIO and West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC) are combining efforts to tackle this problem by providing a seamless transfer pathways for students working toward a bachelor’s degree in social work or criminal justice.

“Our community is in a mental health crisis. There are not enough credentialed mental health workers to meet the growing need for mental health services in the Ohio Valley,” said Warren Galbreath, Ohio University undergraduate social work program director. “Students who follow the coursework outlined in this agreement will become licensable, which is the credential needed to provide good quality mental health services in our community.” 

West Virginia Northern Community College students who obtain their Associate in Science with a concentration in criminal justice or social work will now have a framework to transfer credit to OHIO Eastern or any Ohio University campus to pursue their Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice or social work. These agreements are designed to remove barriers and bridge the gap between community college education and University programs, encouraging more students to continue their education.

Through the official partnership, WVNCC students have access to Ohio University’s Strategic Transfer Educational Plan (STEP) program. STEP provides benefits such as early admission, personal transfer advising, degree planning, financial savings, and cost predictability through The OHIO Guarantee+. 

“These agreements further reinforce our commitment to ensuring that students have access to the higher education opportunities they need to establish meaningful, fulfilling careers,” Ohio University Eastern Dean of Campus and Community Relations David Rohall said. “At OHIO Eastern we have always valued transfer students from area community colleges, and we look forward to welcoming more West Virginia Northern Community College students to our campus.”

According to Galbreath, the Ohio University social work program has maintained a long-standing informal relationship with the WVNCC Human Services program. The social work program articulation agreement formalizes this relationship and provides students with the pathway to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from OHIO.

Kathy Herrington, Program Director for Social Work and Substance Abuse Intervention programs at West Virginia Northern Community College, said “We are excited to formally add Ohio University to our list of articulation agreements for students who want to pursue bachelor’s degrees in these disciplines and help them build a career ladder toward high demand occupations in the Ohio Valley area, and we are grateful that Ohio University is providing the additional incentive of in-state tuition rates for our West Virginia students.”   

These articulation agreements between WVNCC and Ohio University mark a significant step toward enhancing local educational and career opportunities for aspiring professionals in the social work and criminal justice fields.  Through this partnership, students can pursue their academic goals with confidence, knowing that they are supported by two reputable institutions dedicated to their success. 

West Virginia residents may qualify for in-state tuition rates at Ohio University, based on a reciprocity agreement established in 2021. With the added benefit of in-state tuition rates, this partnership exemplifies Ohio University’s commitment to providing exceptional educational opportunities to further enhance the academic journey of students from neighboring West Virginia.

This article was first published on January 29, 2024. Last updated March 22, 2024.

March 22, 2024
Staff reports