New Grant Will Bring Child Mental Health Nursing Education To Rural Communities

July 18, 2007

"Funding from the new grant will help the school reach nurses in these communities, train them to do the job, keep them in the communities in which they are invested and improve mental health care for children in need."

The University of Rochester School of Nursing has received nearly $300,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop distance education technologies, new online courses and clinical training sites to prepare child psychiatric nurse practitioners and pediatric nurse practitioners specializing in behavioral mental health. 

Last fall, in an effort to educate advanced practice nurses to meet the growing mental health needs of children and adolescents, the School of Nursing launched two new nurse practitioner programs aimed at increasing child and adolescent access to high-quality psychiatric and mental health care. The new HRSA grant will make these programs and the school’s educational resources more accessible to nurses in rural communities around Rochester and throughout New York state through a partnership with the New York State Office of Mental Health.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, 50 percent of mental disorders have an onset by age 14 and 75 percent have an onset by young adulthood.  Currently less than 20 percent of youth with mental disorders receive treatment and the situation is even more dismal in rural and underserved communities where there is limited access to child psychiatric providers and mental health services. These treatment disparities exist statewide and nationwide as child mental health providers and services are predominantly centralized in urban communities.

“From time consuming and expensive trips to specialists in larger cities to the stigma that is oftentimes associated with mental illness, families  living in rural communities who have a child or adolescent with mental illness face obstacles at every turn,” said Kathy Rideout, Ed.D., associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.  “Funding from the new grant will help the school reach nurses in these communities, train them to do the job, keep them in the communities in which they are invested and improve  mental health care for children in need.”

“Youth with untreated mental disorders are at high risk for problems in school, drug and alcohol use, violence, and suicide”, said Janiece DeSocio, Ph.D., co-director of the school’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program.  “By preparing advanced practice nurses who are educated to assess, diagnose, and treat young people with mental disorders we can give children a better chance for happier and more productive lives.”

Historically, the University of Rochester School of Nursing has been a national leader in nurse practitioner education. Home to one of the nation’s first nurse practitioner programs, the school launched the first adult/family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program in central and western New York in 1991. The school’s pediatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 9th in the nation by U.S News and World Report.

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