MSU psychology faculty net more than $2 million to help facilitate improved mental health services in Mississippi

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Studio portrait of Michael Nadorff
Michael Nadorff (MSU file photo)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State University faculty members in the Department of Psychology have garnered $2.4 million in external funding to help improve mental health access for youth across Mississippi.

Michael R. Nadorff, an associate professor of psychology and director of MSU’s Clinical Ph.D. Program, and Arazais Oliveros, assistant professor of psychology, received federal and state funding for separate projects aimed at providing access to mental health services in schools throughout the state as well as training for teachers.

Nadorff received a two-year, $1 million grant from youth drug prevention funding created by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to provide telehealth therapy to 1,500 youth and families, building on current work Nadorff has in place in Oktibbeha County as part of his Drug Free Communities grant.

“We have a previous grant that only focused on Oktibbeha County, but the new funding will let us extend beyond that. More importantly, it will let us revive a program that is really near and dear to my heart: youth telehealth,” said Nadorff, who will hire two new clinicians with grant funding to provide pro-bono youth telehealth services across the state.

Nadorff also received a $1 million, four-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA—a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—to provide mental health awareness and suicide prevention training in schools, de-escalation training for school staff, and to adapt crisis response plans for schools to include sample mental health crises.

Nadorff will collaborate on the SAMSHA grant with Oliveros and program evaluators Sheena Gardner and Connie Baird-Thomas, both from MSU’s Social Science Research Center.

“The funding is timely, as it supports more trainings on mental health awareness and suicide prevention in schools, particularly focusing on training youth,” Nadorff said.

Studio portrait of Arazais Oliveros
Arazias Oliveros (MSU file photo)

As her part of the collaboration, Oliveros separately received a four-year, $200,000 subcontract from the University of Mississippi Medical Center to contribute to implementation planning, needs assessment and provision of workforce development opportunities for school staff.

“For years, I have been working to form community partnerships that improve access to behavioral health services for children and families,” Oliveros said of her connection with Project AWARE—Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education.

Oliveros said the new funding will allow her to use existing baseline data and partner with educators to develop an evidence-based implementation plan and build a sustainable infrastructure for school-based mental health.

“I am very excited to coordinate training for educators regarding trauma-informed practices,” Oliveros said. “Using data-driven implementation will make the training, coaching and referral services be successful and sustainable.”

The Department of Psychology is part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Learn more about the College of Arts and Sciences at or the psychology department at

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