Rutgers gets $4.2M grant for mental health center

Rutgers University has received its second major grant this month focused on mental health, it announced Wednesday.

Rutgers’ School of Health Professions was awarded $4.2 million by the federal government to train mental health practitioners. The grant is part of a new effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve care nationwide, Rutgers said in a news release.

The grant will enable Rutgers’ Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling to create a regional Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. The center, one of only 10 nationwide, would support practitioners and other providers that offer treatment, prevention and recovery services.

“One of the federal program’s key goals is to expedite the transfer of evidence-based research into practice,” Kenneth Gill, chair of the Rutgers department and the grant’s principal investigator, said in a prepared statement. “There are problems that are seen as unsolvable, 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 lamented a 17-year average lag in implementing evidence-based research into health care practice — a delay that can be even longer in mental health fields.

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

The Rutgers center will serve a region that includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including a focus on the hurricane-battered region’s Hispanic population.

The center will be located on the Piscataway campus of the Rutgers School of Health Professions. It will launch its work in November, Rutgers said, with a goal of full operations in 2019.

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