The Development of the Interprofessional Leadership Institute for Mental Health Equity

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Vol: 7, Issue: 2

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Woods-Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP, Cheryl L.
The Development of the Interprofessional Leadership Institute for Mental Health Equity; Thomas Jefferson University; JCIPE newsletter; Nursing
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Abstract The Interprofessional Leadership Institute for Mental Health Equity is being developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reduce mental health disparities by (1) engaging students in interprofessional service learning and research activities, (2) promoting integration of community-based strategies and social determinants of mental health conditions among underserved and vulnerable groups as required curricular components, (3) enhancing workforce diversity (in partnership with Racial/Ethnic Minority-Serving Colleges/Universities) by supporting students to obtain professional careers in mental health care, mental health policy, and mental health leadership, and (4) supporting current mental health providers, educators, and researchers who are working to mentor students in ways that address mental health inequities.The Issue Americans with mental health and substance abuse disorders have lower life expectancies. This is magnified for Americans in racial and ethnic minorities, who generally are medically underserved and underrepresented across the health professions. Inadequacy of mental health care contributes greatly to disparate health outcomes. Stigma about mental illness, perceived incongruence of culture, values, and priorities between patients and providers, and perceived incongruence of spiritual/religious beliefs and mental health care services pose barriers to better care and affect access to and use of mental health care service for underrepresented groups (American Psychological Association (APA), 2016). It is imperative to address the mental health care needs for these groups. Strategies are needed to build a workforce that can diminish mental health inequities. The current workforce is likely without critical skills needed for integrated, team-based care (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2011), including the ability to engage patients, families, and communities. SAMHSA has recognized the critical importance of university partnerships to more effectively recruit, prepare, and retain a diverse cadre of health professionals to successfully provide services that reduce disparities in mental health care and substance use disorders. A promising strategy for enriching the preparation of the next generation of health professionals includes revamping the model for training and service provision.