February 15, 2019 | 52° F

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The Rutgers School of Health Professions will use its $4.2 million federal grant as a means to expedite the process of turning research into practice. 

Rutgers School of Health Professions has received a $4.2 million federal grant to train mental health practitioners as part of a new effort by the U.S. Department Health and Human Services to improve mental health services nationwide.

The University will use the grant to expedite the process of evidence-based research turning into practice, according to a press release. Rutgers’ Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling is creating a regional Mental Health Technology Transfer Center — 1 of 10 nationwide — to support this.

Kenneth Gill, chair of the department and the grant’s principal investigator, said there is a 17-year lag on average in implementing research into practice in health care fields, a delay that is usually even longer in mental health specifically.

“There are problems that are seen as unsolvable,” Gill said. “But we have ways to address them — such as strategies for reducing homelessness, chronic unemployment and unnecessary incarceration among people who are mentally ill — and they are not being used.”

Gill said the center will start in November with conferences, train-the-trainer training and online courses, and is expected to be fully operational in 2019. It will be located on the Rutgers School of Health Profession’s Piscataway campus.

The Rutgers center’s regional area of service includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where increases in depression, anxiety panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder have been reported following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, according to Rutgers Today.

It will work with people from teachers and families to health care providers to determine development needs, and provide in-person and online training, technical assistance and resource dissemination, said Ann Murphy, program director of Rutgers School of Health Professionals and the grant project director.

It will also focus on the needs of the Hispanic population, creating English and Spanish online sites for information, materials and resources, she explained.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration established a national network of centers, which Rutgers will now be a part of.

This comes as part of a new approach that is attempting to make effective mental health disorder treatments, support services and evidence-based practices widely available to people with mental illness.

“If the research-based practices are better implemented, there will be better outcomes for people with serious mental illnesses,” Gill said. 

Ryan Stiesi

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