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Grant Funds Project ECHO Behavioral Health Program for Three Years

October 11, 2018

The University of Idaho has been awarded funding by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration competitive grant competition for $374,919 over a three-year period to offer behavioral health trainings for healthcare professionals in Idaho through its ECHO Idaho program.

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a program designed to help primary care providers in rural and underserved communities treat complex chronic diseases with specialist-level expertise through bi-weekly seminars and other resources. Idaho's ECHO program began in early 2018 as a way for healthcare professionals to learn best practices for treating patients with chronic pain or opioid use disorder and get feedback on difficult patient cases from a panel of specialists.

A pilot behavioral health ECHO program launched this fall. Fifty-three health care professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists are enrolled in the training and represent 37 clinics in 24 communities from around the state. An additional 50 providers are on the waitlist.

Continued funding for the behavioral health project will enhance primary care providers' abilities to recognize and appropriately respond to their patients who live with serious emotional disturbances and serious mental illnesses. Healthcare professionals throughout Idaho will have access to twice-monthly Behavioral Health ECHO trainings, a toolkit of mental healthcare resources and access to a referral network for their patients. The goal of the project is to increase the ability of primary care providers to better recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders and employ crisis de-escalation techniques, provide primary care providers education about the community resources available for individuals with mental disorders and establish a referral system so primary care providers are able to direct patients to appropriate services.

ECHO Behavioral Health expects to train at least 200 providers through 64 trainings over a three-year period. By using videoconferencing technology, primary care providers can participate in trainings from their practices in their own communities.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu