NMU partnership boosts mental health efforts

What's happening: In a much-needed boost to mental health access in the Upper Peninsula, Saginaw Valley State University and Northern Michigan University have partnered to enhance the BRIDGE UP program. The program will allow SVSU to offer its psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) training along with NMU to an additional 31 U.P. nurse practitioners annually. The funding for the program comes from a $2.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mental health shortages in the U.P.:  According to officials at Marquette-based Suunta Integrative Health, the U.P. needs roughly 75 full-time equivalent psychiatrists, but there are less than 10 available in the entire region. Attracting the necessary psychiatrists could be difficult, and would require a large amount of time to get everybody moved to the area, licensed and establishing practices. Using PMHNPs, however, could bridge a gap in the workforce necessary to protect the mental health of the area by providing additional specialized training and increasing collaboration between more groups.

What they're saying: “There’s an extreme shortage of professionals in the Upper Peninsula who can provide mental health care and addiction treatment or manage medication,” said Amy Poirier, PMHNP clinical coordinator at NMU. “Upon completion of this program, graduates will be eligible to take the certification exam and provide all of these services. The program involves online classwork through SVSU, clinical placements with various patient populations in the U.P., and hands-on workshops at NMU to reduce travel requirements.” 

What's next: Students at both universities will be able to apply for classes in the PMHNP programs with potential for extra funding help through the BRIDGE UP program. For information on the BRIDGE UP program, call Poirier at 906-227-2826 or program directors at SVSU at 989-964-4339.
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