A $1.8 million four-year grant will assist the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare, in collaboration with the School of Nursing, in expanding the delivery of behavioral health screening, brief intervention, and referral to underserved populations within Suffolk County, NY.
The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grant integrates the education and training of social work and nursing graduate students and is designed to expand the existing services at selected Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program (DSRIP) sites and regional mental health agencies.
The grant enables two Stony Brook University Health Sciences schools to continue to solidify interdisciplinary partnerships on the educational and clinical fronts. The program will help to build a sustainable workforce in the region by training social work and nursing students to work in integrated/intra-professional behavioral healthcare settings.
“This grant and the combined expertise from the Schools of Social Welfare and Nursing will help build the momentum of our commitment to the education and training of healthcare professionals specializing in behavioral health services,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President of the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine. “The collaborative effort will enhance the care of underserved patients that is provided under these important regional programs.”
Over the four-year period, implementation will involve the clinical training of 112 nursing students and 58 social work students.
“This award is timely with its focus on addressing the complex healthcare and mental health needs of our time and in our state and country, including the problem of substance abuse, access to behavioral health screening and primary care, and caring for diverse and underserved populations,” said George Leibowitz, PhD, LICSW, Professor in the School of Social Welfare and the Project Director.
“It is important for our students in both fields to develop skills to address social determinants of health and learn about each other’s approaches in order to deliver effective care,” added Jacqueline Mondros, DSW, Dean of the School of Social Welfare.
Professionals and students will integrate behavioral health screening, interventions, and referrals at existing team-based primary care settings and community behavioral health organizations. These will take place in communities within the areas of Riverhead and North Bellport, NY, with the goal to address unmet needs of vulnerable underserved populations in these rural communities.
“This intra-professional initiative will disseminate needed services, including specialized nursing, in a changing healthcare system to improve patient care and outcomes,” said Lee Anne Xippolitos, RN, PhD, Dean of the School of Nursing. “We believe this program will also enhance clinical training for nursing students and better prepare them for the delivery of behavioral health services in integrated primary care settings.”
According to Dr. Leibowitz, the program will potentially impact 1,500 or more patients per year at partner sites, including through the Suffolk Care Collaborative , the Sayville Project and the Association for Mental Health and Wellness .
As a HRSA-classified workforce grant, approximately 70 percent of the award will go toward student stipends. Stony Brook leaders of the collaborative project expect that these stipends will help build a pathway to employment within community sites for many of the students.