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The new program aims to alleviate the shortage of psychiatric mental health workers in Omaha.

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — Mental health is rapidly deteriorating around the world, and it’s getting harder for places that provide care to keep up.

Robin Conyers, CHI’s vice president of behavioral health services, said COVID was to blame because it created problems for the workforce and increased demand for those in need of mental health care.

“Mental illness affects the first and fifth of the statistics after the first and fourth COVID,” Conyers said.

So CHI Health and Creighton University got creative.

They have teamed up to create a one-year online scholarship program for people who are currently practicing nurses.

“This will broaden their skill set so they can be responsive to the needs of their patients and communities,” said Sarah Banzhaf of Creighton University College of Nursing.

The program will train experienced nurses in psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluation and assessment, how to prescribe medication, and more.

Banzhaf says that not only will this add an extra skill set, but it will also provide the resilience that this workforce needs.

“Then they have the option to add dual certification to their specialization,” Banzhaf said. “We felt it was a way to increase the number of mental health workers.”

Conyers says their goal is to create trust and better access between specialist and patient.

“This allows our professionals, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists to see patients with more complex needs,” Conyers said.

Creighton is set to launch the program in May 2023 with four students. The program is funded by the Nebraska Behavioral Health Education Center.

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