Huntsman Mental Health Institute to expand care in rural Utah communities

File photo: Wikimedia Commons/Daderot

UTAH, March 22, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Huntsman Mental Health Institute is expanding care to rural Utah communities.

“Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) will increase access to critical mental health care services in rural communities throughout Utah with support from Cambia Health Solutions,” said a news release.

Cambia has committed $1 million to HMHI as part of its larger $11.5 million philanthropic donation to nonprofit organizations in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington; this funding will help meet urgent behavioral and mental health needs intensified by COVID-19.

“This is an important lead gift from Cambia that will assist with the development of comprehensive, sustainable mental health and substance abuse services across the state,” said Mark Rapaport, M.D., CEO, Huntsman Mental Health Institute, and chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

“With these additional resources, we can focus on building innovative programs to address provider shortages and reach communities with high needs.”

According to Mental Health America’s 2021 report, Utah ranks last in the nation for adult mental health care access due to the lack of practitioners available to treat the population, the news release said.

Data from the Gardner Report on Utah’s Mental Health System show that Utah’s urban areas had 171 mental health full-time professionals per 100,000 in 2015. Rural areas, however, only had 141 mental health professionals per 100,000 people. The report suggests that Utah must more than double its mental health workforce over the next 15 years to keep up with population growth and move mental health provider ratios closer to the national average.

Cambia’s donation will allow HMHI to develop a rural communities’ needs assessment and create new solutions to serve as tests of change for workforce development, the news release said.

Based on the assessment findings, HMHI will place psychiatry residents and fellows in rural communities and provide school-based psychiatric consultation. HMHI will also partner with the U of U Department of Educational Psychology to support school staff and youth with mental health needs in ten schools. The grant will allow the Department to provide training, mental health screening, individual and group therapy, and consultation.

“We’re honored to support Huntsman Mental Health Institute as they tackle the growing need for mental and behavioral health services across our communities,” said Peggy Maguire, senior vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility at Cambia Health Solutions. “We believe our investment will help break down the stigma surrounding mental health, improve access to behavioral support services, support people in emotional distress and positively impact the overall health and wellbeing of the Utah communities we proudly serve.”

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