Program prepares Montana State students to provide mental health counseling in rural areas

BOZEMAN — In 2013, Kelcy Jensen-Coon’s cousin, who was 20, died by suicide, Jensen-Coon said. Both had grown up in Wisdom, a small community in southwest Montana. Jensen-Coon, who was then 19, saw how the death impacted her family and community, and she wishes there had been mental health services readily available close by for the family and community to utilize.

Jensen-Coon, who is now a graduate student in the counseling program in Montana State University’s Department of Health and Human Development, would like to make clinical mental health counseling services more accessible to small communities across Montana, like Wisdom. A program at MSU is helping her get closer to achieving her goal.

The Rural Mental Health Preparation/Practice Pathway is a collaboration between MSU, the University of Montana and the Montana Office of Public Instruction to prepare counselors to provide services for Montana’s rural schools and communities. In 2019, MSU, UM and OPI received a five-year, $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the program. Montana was one of only three states to receive the grant.


Stephanie Wilson one of first three students to complete Montana State’s individual interdisciplinary Ph.D. program


BOZEMAN — When Stephanie Wilson walks across the stage at Montana State University’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on Friday to earn a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies, she’ll be one of the first from MSU’s individual interdisciplinary Ph.D. program to do so. And when Wilson considers what has motivated her throughout her academic career – particularly in a program that she says requires a great deal of self-motivation – one word comes to mind: bayanihan. It’s a Filipino word to convey community spirit, or a sense of civic unity and cooperation.

“Part of my drive stems from a willingness to help others,” said Wilson, a Filipina American and first-generation college student. “That’s part of Filipino culture; it’s valuing community effort.”

In addition to the idea of bayanihan being a motivator for working toward an advanced degree, many of the aspects of Wilson’s time at MSU that stand out to her are also characterized by collaboration and community.

Stem Montana
Rual Ed

Understanding rural: MSU education students complete weeklong rural practicum experience in Glendive 

BOZEMAN — Montana State University education student Sydney Browning, who grew up in a town of less than 1,000 in northern California, knew when she began studying education that she’d like to teach in a rural community.

“Where I grew up, I knew everybody,” Browning said. “I knew my teachers outside of school. As an adult pursuing my degree in education, I always knew I wanted to be in a more rural teaching situation because I know how close-knit rural communities can really be.”

A recent rural practicum she completed in Glendive (which has a population of just over 5,000) solidified Browning’s decision to pursue a career as a rural schoolteacher.

Montana Project


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College of Education, Health & Human Development

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172940
250 Reid Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717-2940

Tel: (406) 994-4133
E-mail: [email protected]

Dr. Tricia Seifert
[email protected]

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