Lincoln, Pryor, Berry, Snyder, Ross Announce $2.7M to Improve Mental Health Care at Community Health Centers

Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02) and Mike Ross (AR-04) today announced that researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock and Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc. (CHCA) will receive a five-year, $2,785,472 National Institute of Mental Health grant to develop a partnership between UAMS and CHCA researchers to help health care professionals at Arkansas’s Community Health Centers diagnose and treat patients with bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence.

 Researchers will use funds to help primary care providers at Arkansas’s Community Health Centers improve screening and diagnosis of patients with bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence. Funds will be used to train staff at Community Health Centers and collect and analyze data to evaluate the success of screening and treatment methods utilized in the project.

 Patients with bipolar disorder are often difficult to diagnose because they fluctuate between manic and depressive states. Alcohol abuse complicates treatment of mental health disorders, so health care providers involved in the project will screen for alcohol dependence and aim to reduce alcohol consumption among patients.

 Arkansas has 12 Community Health Centers that offer care for more than 141,000 patients at 70 sites throughout the state.

 “Community Health Centers are critical sources of quality care for rural Arkansans who live in medically underserved areas and often have difficulty accessing health care,” Lincoln said. “I am pleased to announce this investment that will help Arkansas’s rural health care professionals provide the best care for mental health patients. I am committed to securing funding for research that improves the quality of care for Arkansans, and I will continue fighting to improve and expand access to health care in Arkansas.”

 “Access to quality mental health care can save lives and put individuals on the path to a successful and productive future. These funds will help community health centers across Arkansas identify and treat mental health illnesses, resulting in better outcomes and reducing health care costs throughout these communities.” Pryor said.

 “Proper diagnosis is essential to successful treatment in cases of patients suffering from bipolar disorder or alcohol dependency,” Berry said. “By providing our health care professionals with the education and analysis they need to diagnose these diseases we can offer greater care to patients and prevent the additional cost and agony associated with longer-term health problems that could otherwise arise.”

 “Mental illness can be devastating for Arkansas families,” Snyder said. “I hope that with this funding the partnership between UAMS and community health centers will provide better care for these individuals needing mental health services.”