School of Nursing Federal Grant Promotes Mental Health and Wellness

by Evan Black '17

A recent $1.2 million federal grant will enable approximately 80 full-time Azusa Pacific University Master of Science of Nursing students in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program to gain hands-on experience through clinical practice working with children, adolescents, and transitional youth in the community facing mental health complications and substance abuse.

According to the 2013 California Health Care Almanac, Los Angeles has a high percentage of adolescents suffering from severe emotional disturbance (SED). About 1 in every 13 children is diagnosed with such a condition, while the number of those who do not receive treatment increases. Sabrina Friedman, EdD, DNP, PMHCNS, FNP, associate professor in the School of Nursing, sees this need as a way to make a difference in the community. Friedman received the federal grant for her proposal, Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals, collaborating with Bonita Huiskes, Ph.D., RN, department chair of the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, and James Adams, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

“Our students will have the ability to increase their clinical experiences working directly with children, adolescents, and transitional age youth to help foster long-term, mental health benefits,” said Friedman, who will serve as the grant’s program director. The grant proposal aims to serve those of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

“The 2013 Community Needs Assessment, conducted by Citrus Valley Health Partners and Kaiser Permanente in the San Gabriel Valley, identified mental health as the number one need in our area, and 51.4 percent of the individuals with mental, emotional, alcohol, and drug-related issues did not receive treatment. This speaks to the significance of the grant and our students’ ability to make an impact in the lives of those affected,” said Aja Tulleners Lesh, Ph.D., RN, dean of the School of Nursing.