OGDEN -- A new $1.6 million grant will allow Midtown Community Health Center and Weber Human Services to collaborate to treat the most seriously mentally ill patients in the Top of Utah.
The grant, awarded by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will make it possible for Midtown providers to work directly with patients in a primary and behavioral health care clinic, said Midtown executive director Lisa Nichols.
Sometime in February, several Midtown providers will move into the clinic at Weber Human Services. This will allow them to treat the physical conditions of patients while Weber Human Services will treat the mental needs of patients, all under one roof.
"It will basically be one-stop shopping," Nichols said. She explained that mental health case managers now help transport individuals and coordinate with health care providers at various clinics all over Weber County.
That collaboration between physical and mental health care providers presents challenges in ensuring treatment information is shared, she said.
Weber Human Services and Midtown have, historically, been able to provide access to mental health services for community residents, Nichols said.
Both are safety-net providers for the most vulnerable patients in the community. The grant will make it more convenient for patients to be treated for both medical and mental conditions in one place.
Services provided by the clinic will include mental health care, physical health care, a full-service pharmacy, laboratory and wellness and prevention programs, Nichols said.
According to the National Association of State Mental Health Directors, severely mentally ill patients die 25 years earlier than the general population. The study, released two years ago is titled Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness.
"About a quarter of the population here has depression or anxiety," said Jed Burton, director of clinical services at Weber Human Services.
"There are also people with schizophrenia and bipolar, but those statistics aren't as great. The study indicates one of the reasons people aren't living as long is because they aren't seeking the medical help they need.
"They also develop illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease that go untreated. We would like to see that change."
The ultimate goal of this project is to extend and improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from both physical and mental health symptoms, Nichols said. Secondary gains expected are a decreased reliance on acute care services such as emergency rooms and hospitals, which are more expensive.
"This clinic and the services it will provide will put a little dent in that 25 years and help these people have a better quality of life," he said. "The treatment of mental health should be just as much of a priority as the treatment of physical health."