September 23, 2004
HHS Receives Grant to Improve Women’s Health
Augusta - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it has been awarded a $300,000 grant to integrate mental health and addiction services into the primary health care setting. The grant was awarded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. Maine was one of only two states in the nation to receive such funding.
“This is a testament to the innovative collaboration between HHS staff and our private partners,” said HHS Commissioner, John R. Nicholas. “We all share in the goal of strengthening Maine individuals and families. This grant represents a unique opportunity for us to improve the way we do that by changing the way services are delivered.”
Currently, women seeking mental health and addiction services, where available, must visit many different providers. This obstacle exists not only in Maine, but also throughout the nation. As a result, there is typically little coordination between a women’s primary care provider and the delivery of mental health and addiction services.
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director of HHS’s Bureau of Health, noted that the challenges of care giving, parenting responsibilities and conflicting work and family roles have a significant influence on women’s overall health. “Women generally make the majority of health care decision for their families,” Dr. Mills said, “but they often cannot find the time to take care of their own health. Making mental health and substance abuse services part of a regular primary care visit will make these services more accessible, and that will significantly improve the overall health of Maine women.”
HHS will receive $100,000 in each of the next three years to make mental health and addiction services available to women of reproductive age (15 to 44) during their regular doctor’s visit. Four health centers located in underserved areas of Androscoggin, Aroostook, Penobscot and Washington County will serve as demonstration sites for this initiative. Using funds from the grant, primary care providers at these sites will be assessing and linking women to specialists for behavioral health treatment.
The project was developed in conjunction with the Maine Primary Care Association (MCPA) who will be assisting in the final selection of the sites. Kevin Lewis, Executive Director of the MPCA, noted that the work supported by this grant project will build upon the work of all primary care providers in proving better access to health care for Maine people. “It is important for us to keep integrated comprehensive women’s health a public health priority in Maine,” Lewis said, “especially for women who are uninsured or underinsured. This grant award will go a long way to help us do that.”
The Maine-Dartmouth Family Practice Residency and the Family Planning Association of Maine also participated in the design of the project. In addition, local consumer coalitions and grassroots advocacy groups will be providing guidance and support in its implementation.
The designers of the project hope to create a successful model for coordinating mental health and addiction services into the primary health care setting such that the program can be replicated in additional sites. Feedback from patients and community partners will guide the project’s development.
For more information about this grant or other initiatives concerning women’s health, contact HHS’s Bureau of Health, Division of Family Health at (207) 287-4577.