Rutgers School Social Work, along with the Schools of Nursing and Health Professions’ Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions received a four-year grant in the amount of $1.92 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide stipends to students interested in providing mental health services in primary care settings. Professors Patricia Findley and Edward Alessi will be the two investigators from the School of Social Work.
The project, Advancing Capacity: Behavioral Health in Integrated Primary Care (AC-BNIPC), addresses the lack of mental health services in the United States. In 2014, 43.4 million U.S. adults experienced any mental illness. Of those with mental illness, between 30–70% never receive treatment. For many trying to access care there are delays of months to a year or more before being seen by a behavioral specialist. The collaborative model of treatment proposed in this grant provides treatment for both behavioral and physical problems in community-based healthcare settings, which is expected to improve overall health outcomes while minimizing the stigma often associated with mental health services.
Students in the Schools of Social Work, Nursing, and Health Professions will be eligible for generous stipends and the School of Pharmacy will be supporting the development of classroom materials and providing clinic-level consultation around patient prescribing. This broader team model will allow for bi-directional learning between behavioral and primary care students, and foster side-by-side learning and practice to prepare practitioners to provide team-based, culturally-competent, integrated behavioral and physical health care.
Associate Professor Patricia Findley explains the core significance of this grant. “It provides Rutgers with the opportunity to train a collaborative workforce that will help individuals with both mental and physical health issues. This in turn will meet a growing demand to get more social workers into primary care settings.”
Currently, the Schools are recruiting students for this program: six from each of the Schools of Social Work, Health Professions and Nursing. Students from the Schools of Social Work and the School of Health Professions will receive $10,000 stipends, and those in the School of Nursing will receive $28,352 each.