UNMC Grants -- Medical students secure grant to raise awareness about mental illness

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations | January 25, 2010

picture disc.UNMC medical students received a $4,000 Helping Hand Grant from the American Psychiatric Foundation to increase awareness about mental illnesses.

The students will hold 10 to 15 community education sessions to share information with underserved Omahans on how to recognize mental illness and where to get help.

The Helping Hands Grant program, which awarded grants to nine universities across the country, raises awareness of mental illness and the importance of early recognition.

picture disc.
Medical students involved in the grant are, from left, Caitlin Mohr, Elizabeth Penner and Ruthri Goodwin. Not pictured but also involved with the grant is Nancy Hong.
"People should not fear getting help for mental illness for them or for a family member," said Ruthri Goodwin, one of four UNMC medical students spearheading the grant. "We want to reach out and encourage people to seek out information and help."

This year, programs will take place in various locations around Omaha and focus on the black, Latino and homeless populations.

The first event will be held during the American Medical Association Medical Student Section health fair on Jan. 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the UNMC Center for Health Living.

Programs also will be included during the following events:

  • Black Family Health and Wellness Association Health Fair -- March 27, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., North High School, 4410 N. 36th St.; and
  • NAMI Walk -- June 12 at 9 a.m., Elmwood Park.

Other events (dates and times to be announced) will include the Body and Soul event at four North Omaha churches, as well as two barbershops and a south Omaha forum.

Grant partners

Partners in the grant are the UNMC Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Aside from Goodwin, the grant is managed by medical students Elizabeth Penner, Caitlin Mohr and Nancy Hong, under the supervision of UNMC faculty member, Howard Liu, M.D.

"This is something that is really exciting for us," Goodwin said. "It underscores why we got into medical school -- to help people."

Funding is made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Students, faculty or staff who would like to volunteer for the project can contact Goodwin at rdgoodwin@unmc.edu.

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