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Helping Hands Grant Awarded

Medical Students To Expand Shuman Center Program

The American Psychiatric Foundation has awarded a Helping Hands grant to support expanding a mentorship/training program developed by members of the University of Pittsburgh Chapter of the Student National Medical Association (UPSNMA).  The mission of the Helping Hands Grant Program is to encourage medical student participation in community health as related to underserved communities in addition to exposing medical students to the field of psychiatry.  The application process is highly competitive.  The Foundation selects only 6-8 projects nationally each year for the grant program. 

The Helping Hands grant will enable the UPSNMA to expand the current mentorship program they operate at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in Allegheny County to make positive changes in their lives.  The current program serves approximately 150 adolescents aged 12-18 temporarily living at the center.  With support from the Helping Hands grant, medical students and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty will be able to achieve the core objectives of the program, which are: 1) to address the pressures contributing to the prevalence of mental health issues; 2) to teach coping mechanisms for a variety of stressful life situations; and 3) to expose the youth to positive community role models in order to introduce healthier beliefs and behaviors.  Through a series of workshops with Shuman residents, members of the UPSNMA and Department faculty will conduct interactive workshops on a variety of mental health topics such as feelings of self-worth, body image, peer pressure, substance abuse, and anger/stress management.  Upon completion of the mentorship program, Shuman residents will be asked to take part in a peer-to-peer mentorship program and serve as peer mentors to incoming adolescents entering the facility.  The following UPSNMA members worked closely with Department of Psychiatry faculty and School of Medicine leadership to develop the proposal and will be critical to its implementation at the Shuman facility:  Adia Kelly (MS-IV); Enyinna Nwachuku (MS-III); Judy-April Oparaji (MS-II); Dahlia Raymond (MS-III); Kevin Taylor (MS-II); and Kene Ukeje (MS-II).

The Student National Medical Association is the oldest and largest medical student organization dedicated to people of color and underserved communities. Community service and eliminating disparities in health care delivery, access, and disease morbidity and mortality are among the SNMA’s highest priorities.