MU looks to provide better mental health care access

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Columbia - The United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has given a $1 million grant to the University of Missouri and University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). The grant is to help fund programs in each university's school of social work.

The main focus of these programs is to help improve access to mental health care for young people between the ages of 16-25 throughout the state of Missouri.

The program will help fund more training for mental and behavioral health professionals throughout the state. It will also fund 84 students at both universities (44 from MU and 40 from UMSL), over the next three years, who are going after their master's of social work.

The grant will provide a $10,000 stipend to each student while they train in the field with professional agencies. It will also provide funding for on-site and web-based training for health professionals all over the state. 

Marjorie Sable, director of MU's School of Social Work, is in charge of MU's portion of the grant. She said it's important this is a joint grant.Sable said UMSL is in a very concentrated urban area, while MU has satellites outside of town in the more urban parts of town. This allows them to have a wider reach to people with mental health issues.

She said it is also important to target the age range of 16-25 because it is more beneficial to diagnose mental problems earlier in life. It helps health professionals get patients the help they need in a timely manner.

The other service the grant will help fund is a newer model called integrated behavioral health services. It places a behavioral health professional in the doctor's office with the primary care providers. This will help diagnose young people who display tendencies for mental health issues. 

The HRSA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It works to help improve access to health care throughout the country. According to its website, its programs work to provide health care to people who are geographically isolated or economically or medically vulnerable.