Soltis-Jarrett Takes on State Mental Health with New Grants, Projects

The School of Nursing is excited to announce four grants and projects that, under the direction of Ross Distinguished Professor Victoria Soltis-Jarrett, contribute to the psychiatric and mental health needs of North Carolina. Professor Soltis-Jarrett said the projects are in honor of Carol and Coleman Ross—who established the distinguished professorship Soltis-Jarrett was awarded—for their continued support of mental health nursing in North Carolina.

The projects aim to increase access to psychiatric services, engage the community with the School of Nursing’s strategies, and improve health literacy in the state in order to de-stigmatize mental health issues.

Nurse Practitioners Taking the Lead in North Carolina: Interprofessional Practice, Education, and Integration of Care: This grant is a collaboration between Piedmont Health Services—a large, Federally Qualified Health Center—and the UNC School of Nursing, which was one of only nine sites chosen out of 75 applicants to the grant. The grant allows Piedmont Health Services and the School to work together to increase access to mental health care in the state through interprofessional training. In this way, nurse practitioners who don’t specialize in psychiatric issues may become aware of cultural and evidence-based needs to cater their psychiatric care to specific populations.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners in North Carolina: Interprofessional Education, Practice, and Integration of Care: Initiated in 2013, this project has yielded numerous positive outcomes that contribute to the treatment of psychiatric illness in North Carolina. It has led to the development of post-graduate modules that increase knowledge among APRNs about mental health-related issues. The project also established clinical sites that allow students to experience integrated health care, including student-led cooking classes for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and the creation of safe spaces within the homes of individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses. The School of Nursing also plans to launch Wellness on Wheels, an RV van that will deliver mobile depression screenings to Chatham County. Through the project, the School has also successfully delivered three sold-out conferences on managing addiction, with the fourth scheduled for this March.

MAT Grant: The Medication Assisted Treatment for Addictions grant (MAT) aims to improve access, screening, and treatment for individuals who are addicted to opioids and heroin. The UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health will collaborate with Professor Soltis-Jarrett on this project, who is a member of the grant team. She hopes to focus on educating primary care nurses and nurse practitioners to become MAT providers.

HRSA ANEW Grant: Professor Soltis-Jarrett is currently writing a grant in collaboration with Goshen Medical Center, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in North Carolina. Funding for the grant comes from the federal Health Resources and Services’ Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) program, and it will allow the School of Nursing to work with the Center to increase mental health knowledge and skills for their staff, as well as for School of Nursing trainees.

Beyond these four grants and projects, Professor Soltis-Jarrett is furthering her outreach to the State Hospital System and North Carolina Communities as she establishes more community partnerships and composes future grants.

“It continues to be an honor to represent the School of Nursing and to continue to enrich the North Carolina community, as well as the School of Nursing students,” said Soltis-Jarrett. She credits much of the projects’ successes to the Ross’ and to Margaret Raynor, who is committed to the education and training of nurses that the projects call for.

“I would not have had the opportunity to continue to develop innovative projects, community outreach, and services without their support, friendship, and generosity,” said Soltis-Jarrett.