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Philanthropy Fuels Innovation to Meet Mental Health Needs

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Sarah Satterwhite

Senior Editor, Strategic Content and Storytelling

Announcement  •

A young friend of DU accesses the services of GSPP’s CUB Clinic remotely.

Mental health resources soon will be available to more people throughout Colorado thanks to new partnerships between University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) and multiple generous supporters. Those visionary partnerships are amplifying the School’s multi-faceted effort to use technology and other means of creative innovation to heighten access to mental health services in communities across our state.

A recent gift from the PIVOT Foundation will help to meet the striking need for equitable and accessible mental and behavioral health care in both urban and rural communities of Colorado. Twenty-two of the state’s 64 counties lack a licensed psychologist, which is evidence of rural Colorado’s deep need for increased mental health services.

PIVOT’s generosity will fuel a new mental health app, much like a mental health “marketplace,” which builds on GSPP’s academic and community excellence. It will provide both workforce development of mental health professionals and direct service for communities across Colorado. It will include an in-person service hub in the Denver metro area as well as virtual services provided in rural areas across the state.

The services from the telehealth platform and virtual clinic will connect with students from kindergarten through college and across underserved client constituencies that correlate with GSPP’s specialty strengths. These include Latinx, perinatal to five, paternal mental health, sport psychology, Military/Veteran/First Responder constituencies, substance addicted populations, and primary care. Individuals in the communities will connect with these services through multiple entry points, e.g., museums, libraries, schools, in keeping with GSPP’s proven referral model.

Connected to that vision, a recent gift from GSPP’s Board of Advisors member Bud Ross will also bolster innovation in the field. His gift supports the creation of a faculty innovation fund to empower faculty members to pursue projects that use an out-of-the-box approach to advance mental and behavioral health. Such projects include a ground-breaking analysis of child abuse in sport coaching, the exploration of a mobile mental health unit, and more.

“Psychology’s call to action in making the world a better place has never been more pronounced. We are committed to moving the needle for communities in need now more than ever, and these philanthropic partnerships will go far in helping us answer that call with inventiveness and novel solutions,” notes Dr. Shelly Smith-Acuna, dean of GSPP.

Through these gifts, GSPP has an opportunity to expand its work, maximizing the impact of its research and practical expertise by using sophisticated innovations to meet a great need for individuals across Colorado.