Grant to Support Pediatric Mental Health

School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Social Work to collaborate

The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital will join forces to improve treatment of youth with behavioral and mental health disorders.

UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Social Work will work with Children’s Mercy under a three-year, $764,810 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant will support an interprofessional effort to integrate behavioral and mental health screenings and education into pediatric primary care settings. Advanced practice nursing and social work students will be trained in early detection of behavioral and mental health disorders, including substance abuse, and they will learn how to educate parents and caregivers about these issues.

Erin Ellington, a professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, will serve as the program director and lead faculty for the project. She said students planning to work with children and families post-graduation who are selected to participate will receive stipends of $10,000, which they can use to further their education. The financial stipend is offered to students in their final year of clinical training.

Ten students – five in the nurse practitioner program and five in the social work program – will be awarded stipends the first year. That number will increase in future grant years. Applications for this opportunity will begin later this fall.

Ellington said the interprofessional aspect of the program will help prepare students for a new health care environment in which professionals across disciplines collaborate more consistently and effectively to provide patient care.

“Health care is moving to a team-based approach,” Ellington said. “So it’s great for students to be trained in interprofessional practice prior to graduation.”

Students will work with families in group sessions and help conduct behavioral health assessments. Ellington said the key to the grant is its focus on bringing behavioral health providers into the primary care clinical setting.

“Mental health disorders often have an onset in childhood or adolescence. And primary care settings are where they are initially seen.” Ellington said. “Integration of behavioral health providers into the primary care setting offers increased collaboration and early recognition and intervention.”

“Interprofessional education has been embraced by UMKC schools on Hospital Hill. The schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Nursing and Health Studies, have incorporated interprofessional education into their curriculum as a way to better prepare students for the new health care environment. This is just one more example of UMKC leadership in interprofessional education,” said Ann H Cary, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The core project faculty include Ellington, Margaret Brommelsiek, Laura Thiem and Susan Kimble of the School of Nursing and Health Studies; and Elaine Spencer-Carver of the School of Social Work. Additional members of the Executive Committee include primary care physicians and advanced practice nurses at the clinical practicum clinics where the student internships will take place.

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