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UAMS and DHS receive $9.5 million grant for mental health initiative

UAMS and DHS are partnering with two federally qualified health centers to implement the funding in Arkansas. Dr. Tisha Deen is a psychologist at UAMS, and she said this grant funding will help increase the amount of mental health services provided in primary care setting across the state.

“It will allow us to increase the number of behavioral health team members that we can have in our primary care clinics," Deen said, "and it really provides the infrastructure for us to be able to build some really great workflows, to be able to screen in primary care. And then to be able to provide interventions and help connect people with resources in the community if they’re needed.”

The program is set to run for five years, and Deen said by the end of that time, she hopes they will have at least 36 primary care clinics equipped to provide a variety of services.

“To screen and talk really robustly about mental health and behavioral health needs," Deen said. "So that means that whenever many Arkansas come into their primary care clinics, their primary care team is equipped to really understand and address their mental health issues. Right now, we have a few clinics that are able to do that, but this is really gonna expand.”

It seems obvious, but more funding means more patients. Deen said those patients will receive good, evidence-based treatments within primary care.

“It will also help to create better pathways so that patients can get into specialty care whenever it’s needed and also create great ways of people who are getting better in specialty care to be able to come back to the primary care clinics and get good mental healthcare. That really helps us to use our resources wisely and especially to be able to use our psychiatry and mental health resources wisely, because we know that is a really limited resource that we have the state.”

The grant funding will also fund the creation of a planning council that will work to provide resources and support to the expanding care model statewide.

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Matthew Moore is senior producer for Ozarks at Large.
Victoria Hernandez is a news intern for KUAF and currently a senior dual majoring in English/Journalism with History and Gender Studies minors at the University of Arkansas.
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