Education and Training
Collaboration to Enhance Skills Of MH Care Administrators
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 2 page 7-51

Staff and administrators from more than 100 mental health agencies will have the opportunity to receive training on how to help people with mental illness lead healthier lives. The initiative is part of a collaborative effort between the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and Eli Lilly and Company.

The Partners for Excellence in Psychiatry: Neuroscience Treatment Team Partnership (NTTP) Training Program will train administrators from selected agencies that serve people with severe and persistent mental illness and who "have an interest in implementing new psychosocial approaches to help these patients," according to Betty Vreeland, training coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Psychiatry at UMDNJ-University Behavioral Healthcare.

"We want to train behavioral health providers in best-practice approaches that help to promote illness management, recovery, and wellness," Vreeland told Psychiatric News.

Eli Lilly and Company sponsors the two-and-a-half-day training, which takes place on the university’s campus.

As part of the training, Vreeland explained, UMDNJ faculty will use three modules to teach administrators such as chief psychiatrists and mental health treatment team members. The modules are "Team Solutions," in which people with mental illness and their family members learn about symptoms of mental illness and what they can do to promote recovery and prevent relapse; "Solutions for Wellness," a program that offers information and tips on nutrition, fitness, and exercise; and the "Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale" program, which teaches mental health care clinicians about the rating scale and how it is used to identify symptoms associated with tardive dyskinesia, a serious side effect of the medications many in the target population take.

Vreeland described the program as unique because it takes a holistic approach to the treatment of people with mental illness. "It helps mental health professionals play a strong role in the recovery of patients with mental illness," she said, "and seeks to prevent medical comorbidities by promoting a healthy lifestyle."

Some people with serious mental illness engage in unhealthy lifestyle practices, she said, such as eating too many foods that are high in sugar and fat or not exercising. In addition, some antipsychotic medications may cause unwanted weight gain, which can exacerbate health problems in patients with serious mental illness.

In addition to training administrators and staff about how to help patients lead healthier lives, NTTP includes consultation and follow-up services in which training staff help treatment teams and administrators implement the patient-education modules at their respective mental health agencies.

Edward Kim, M.D., who is medical director of Adult Services at University Behavioral Healthcare and associate professor of psychiatry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, developed a portion of the training on the theoretical and experiential aspects of organizational change.

Kim said the program will help psychiatrists and mental health professionals "get beyond the idea of simply controlling patients’ symptoms to focusing on wellness— physical health, psychiatric symptoms, and involvement in the community."

The strength of the program lies in the collaboration between UMDNJ and Lilly, Vreeland said. "Together, this university-industry-based program is able to impact the lives of people with serious mental illness in a way that neither one of us could have accomplished alone."

More information about the Partners for Excellence in Psychiatry: Neuroscience Treatment Team Partner Training Program, including application forms, is posted online at www.partners4excellence.org or is available by phone at (888) 888-8221.

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