October 01, 2017

The McAuley Health Center, University of Detroit Mercy’s nurse-led primary care clinic on Detroit’s east side, will soon offer expanded behavioral health and substance abuse services for adults and children, thanks to a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Currently, the center sees patients for mental health services one day per week; with the grant, which totals nearly $1 million over two years, this would expand to three days per week for adults and two days per week for children.

“My goal is that people will have greater integrated physical and emotional health,” said Carla Groh, the center’s project director.

Mental health, she explained, is tied to physical health, and one directly affects the other, adding, “Without good mental health, it is more difficult to have good physical health.”

At present staffing levels, the clinic sees an average of 25 patients per month for mental health services, with most patients receiving about one appointment per month. The appointment waiting list for new mental health patients is four to six weeks long.

With the grant, Groh hopes to reduce the wait time for an initial appointment, increase the number of patients seen each month and allow for more frequent visits. Additionally, the clinic will partner with other community organizations to attend events, such as health fairs, to distribute resources about mental health.

The pediatric behavioral health practitioner will be available to work directly with children, but will also take appointments with parents who have concerns about their children’s growth and development — or who just need some extra support.

“Although it is hard to know what is ‘normal’ in this time of rapid change and flux, we do know that people suffer significant mental distress in response to life events and circumstances,” Groh said. “It is our goal with the HRSA grant to provide a safe venue where people can explore their feelings and work on strategies that help them more effectively handle change, flux and serious mental health illness.”