Herzing University awarded $2 million federal grant to train more mental health professionals

Herzing's Brookfield campus.

Herzing University was recently award a nearly $2 million federal grant for a new mental health-focused nurse practitioner program.

The $1.92 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration will fund Herzing’s Every Experience Counts program, which targets underrepresented students who are seeking to become mental health nurse practitioners in mental health and primary care settings in underserved areas.

The grant will allow Herzing to educate and train 120 students in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program through 2025.

Herzing said there is a disproportionate number of residents living in medically underserved areas among the six states where it has campuses: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, more than 75% of all U.S. counties have a shortage of mental health workers while 20% of adults experience a mental health condition in any given year.

“Our efforts through Every Experience Counts will focus on our campuses across six states, our clinical partners across the US and many of our students which are in high need and high demand areas,” said Dr. Tricia Wagner, nursing department chair at Herzing University. “We expect our cohorts to continue to have strong representation from African American and Hispanic graduate-level nursing students.”

Herzing said it plans to work with community partners to provide hands-on clinical training opportunities for students, which could lead to full-time employment.

“We are seeing the demand for mental health and addiction treatment skyrocket with the pandemic and other social and economic challenges, which heightens the need for nurses with the passion and skills to serve these people in their time of crisis,” said Anne Ballentine, vice president of marketing at Rogers Behavioral Health and member of the Herzing University Healthcare Advisory Board. “This funding will ultimately increase the pipeline of nurses with behavioral health expertise at a time when they are so needed.”

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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