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Grants will help Huntsman Mental Health Institute determine rural needs

Exterior of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute on the campus of the University of Utah. Photo credit: Huntsman Mental Health Institute

The Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah will use $1.5 million in grant funding to look at mental health care needs in Utah’s rural areas. Cambia Health Solutions, the company that operates Regence Blue Cross in Utah, along with other health systems across the West will donate $1 million. An additional $500,000 has been provided by the Huntsman Foundation.

Ross Van Vranken, executive director of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, says the first thing they’ll do with that money is to assess the needs in communities across Utah.

“Each area has specific issues they want to address, and there’s not one uniform way to kind of approach this,” Van Vranken told KSL Newsradio.

He says they’ll also be doing some work on mental health needs in schools. Eventually, professionals from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute will be out working in the rural communities they’re trying to serve.

“We would use some of our residents and fellows, along with attending supervision to actually provide support virtually and then actually travel out and be on-site,” Van Vranken said.

A recent study by the Kem Gardner Policy Institute at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah said Utah will need to more than double its mental health workforce in the next 15 years to reach the national average level of providers to population.

Cambia Health Solutions has also provided grant funding to several other agencies serving the mental health needs of Utahns.

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