The University of Pikeville has been awarded a grant to create a program for combatting substance abuse and drug addiction in Eastern Kentucky.
According to UPike, the university was awarded a $750,000 competitive grant by the Health Resources Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funding will go toward creating a Master of Social Work program, which will contain a specialization in mental health and addictions.
The program will aim to increase the number of professionals trained to “transform” integrated behavioral health and primary care teams, to “effectively prevent and treat substance abuse in community-based practices” and to aid with student recruitment, professional development and other functions.
The program aims to place a significant percentage of students in training areas with high levels of opioid and substance abuse disorders and have 75 percent of graduates employed in high-need areas, according to UPike. It is a 12-month program that will start in fall 2020.
“We are grateful that HRSA invested in our Master of Social Work program in such a significant way,” UPike President Burton Webb said in a statement. “This investment will benefit the entire region by expanding the number of social work professionals trained in Appalachia with the skills needed to address the problems we all face together.”
The grant is part of more than $9 million in grants that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday to “assist Kentucky’s fight against the opioid epidemic.” Along with UPike, other grants included $167,000 for prevention and treatment services at Eastern Kentucky University and $167,000 to Kentucky-based Grace Community Health Center, among others.