Soltis-Jarrett Awarded $1.1M from HRSA to Advance Mental Health Nursing in NC’s Rural Areas

With $1.1 million in new funding from the Human Resources and Services Administration, Ross Distinguished Professor Victoria Soltis-Jarrett and the UNC School of Nursing will help meet the pressing psychiatric-mental health needs of rural and underserved populations of North Carolina.

The funding will be used to partner with Goshen Medical Center, North Carolina’s largest rural Federally Qualified Health Center, to educate 12 new primary care nurse practitioners (NP) to implement integrated (mind/body) health care for patients in NC’s rural and underserved counties.

“An exciting outcome of this new project is that it will also enrich and expand the nurse practitioner curriculum across all practice areas at the School of Nursing to include advanced psychiatric-mental health concepts, including psychiatric assessment, management and psychopharmacology,” said Soltis-Jarrett. “Offering a graduate curriculum that prepares NPs working in non-psychiatric mental health settings in NC — particularly primary care, acute and extended care settings — to provide whole health care, and specifically behavioral health care, to patients will meet a pressing need in our state.”

Studies show that 70% of people who go to primary care facilities for treatment present with a mental health or substance abuse issue, but don’t receive adequate assessment or treatment for those issues. Soltis-Jarrett believes nurses are uniquely positioned to address this gap:

“Primary Care NPs can learn to effectively screen, assess and treat many common psychiatric illnesses and substance abuse disorders to remission and increase the quality of life for patients and their loved ones. One of my current projects is already demonstrating remarkable outcomes to this effect.”

“The School of Nursing has long taken the lead in meeting the psychiatric-mental health needs of vulnerable populations in North Carolina, and this grant allows us to extend our impact,” said Dr. Nena Peragallo Montano, dean of the UNC School of Nursing. “We’re very proud of the work of Dr. Soltis-Jarrett and her team. They are directly answering Carolina’s call to our faculty to engage in real, serviceable ways towards producing a healthier North Carolina.”

Our thanks and congratulations to Dr. Soltis-Jarrett and her team for their efforts to provide whole health care to patients in North Carolina, and for strengthening Carolina Nursing’s programs to better prepare our graduates to care for the state’s most vulnerable communities.