URI to offer mental health master's program for nurse practitioners
Providence Journal - 6/28/2018
June 28--PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- With rates of addiction and mental illness having reached crisis levels in the state and nation, the University of Rhode Island'sCollege of Nursing is introducing a new master's program that will bring more psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioners into the fight against disorders that can threaten life and well-being.
"We have a huge mental health and addiction crisis across the country," said Denise Coppa, associate dean of URI's College of Nursing graduate programs. "We need more people who are clinically trained and can handle working with mental-health patients. The students will come out of the program certified to deliver mental health counseling and therapy, and will be licensed to prescribe psychotropic medications."
Based at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, the program "will offer such classes as psychiatric assessment and diagnosis, neuro-psychopharmacology and integrated treatment for older adults, along with clinical practice in local hospitals, community health centers and private practices," according to URI.
Students will be able to complete the requirements for their master's degrees in 2 1/2 to five years, depending on whether they choose a part- or full-time course load. Clinical experience will be available at hospitals, "community health centers, health maintenance organizations, and private offices in both urban and rural settings," the program description states.
Statistics kept by the Rhode Island Department of Health document a dramatic rise of accidental drug overdose deaths in the state, from 183 in 2012 to 323 last year. Such deaths, the department says, "are a public health crisis."
Nationally, nearly one in five adults lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Prevalence was highest among young adults -- age 18 to 25 -- with 22.1 percent of that population living with a mental illness.
Available information specific for Rhode Island is more limited. One measure that the Health Department reports is "frequent mental distress," which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as "14 or more days in the last 30 where mental health was not good," according to Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken.
In 2017, last year for which data were available, 13.5 percent of Rhode Island adults were experiencing frequent mental distress, an increase of 24 percent in two years.
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