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Nearly $3 million in grants to support mental health services in MI’s underrepresented areas


Michigan could soon be home to more mental health prepared health care providers in underrepresented areas, thanks to two large grants totaling almost $3 million.

A $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will help the Michigan State University College of Nursing to train mental health-prepared nurses to serve underserved populations across the state. And a five-year, $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant will focus on increasing the number of nurses and medical doctors from Michigan’s underrepresented communities trained in substance use disorders through leading-edge research and clinical activities.

“It is reassuring to see both state and federal leaders recognize the importance of having health care providers who are trained in mental health,” said Dr. Leigh Small, interim dean of the MSU College of Nursing. “These are investments in our health care system that will result in positive patient outcomes across our state, especially in underrepresented areas.”

The funding, from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), will be applied toward the MSU College of Nursing's Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program (PMHNP) and is strictly for measurable recruitment and retention outcomes to increase PMHNPs in the state of Michigan.

According to PMHNP Program Director Dr. Dawn Goldstein, who is also principal investigator of the MDHHS grant, the funding will assist with target recruitment efforts of registered nurses (RNs) or existing advanced practice RNs interested in applying to the PMHNP program at either the master’s, doctoral, or postgraduate certificate levels. Newly recruited students who receive stipends must commit to meeting the critical mental health and substance use disorders in Michigan's medically underserved populations.

Meanwhile, the $1.3 million NIH grant is led by researchers with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Nursing. It will go toward the initiative, “Increasing Minority Physician and APRN Clinician Scientist Research Training to Equalize Addiction Medicine (IMPACT TEAM).”

“This unique program will help build a pipeline of clinician-scientists ready to address the addiction crisis in Michigan and beyond,” said Dr. Cara Poland, a multi-principal investigator and an associate professor in the College of Human Medicine. “By learning the science of addiction early in their careers and coupling this with mentored research projects, my colleague and I hope to expand the substance use disorder and other mental health physician and nursing workforce to more equitably mirror the populations MSU serves across the state of Michigan.”

The number of annual opioid-related deaths in Michigan rose more than 19 percent from 2019 to 2022, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Goldstein, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing as well as a multi-principal investigator on the NIH-funded project, said the team is trying to combat those trends through increasing diversity, ensuring equity, promoting inclusion, and enhancing outreach and engagement.

The program will focus on three key areas:

1. Recruiting members of underrepresented groups using multiple strategies and existing Michigan State University initiatives to participate in mentored research

2. Refining and delivering inter-professional, evidence-based and stigma- reducing addiction curriculum for students

3. Recruiting a subset of students engaged in training to participate in inter-professional research collaborations geared toward launching a research career

“Mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) are increasingly prevalent issues throughout the state,” Goldstein said. “This effort will promote a pipeline of advanced practice registered nurses and physician clinician-scientists from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds who will be poised to be leaders in the areas of SUD and addiction medicine.”