UC San Diego and United Health Group get $4 million grant to expand the mental health workforce

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The University of California San Diego and UnitedHealth Group announced a new four-year, $4 million grant collaboration to expand the mental health workforce in California.

Led by UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and funded by UnitedHealth Group, the collaboration aims to diversify the pipeline of child and adolescent psychiatrists and encourage medical students to pursue careers in this field through the introduction of novel learning opportunities, individualized mentorship, scholarships, and financial education support for participating residents.

California has a mental health professional workforce shortage that is projected to worsen unless meaningful action is taken to address it, according to the California Future Health Workforce Commission. There are only 13 child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children in California, compared to 75 pediatricians per 100,000 children.

“We want to provide the exposure as well as the support that is necessary to succeed in medicine,” said Desiree Shapiro, M.D., associate clinical professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Child and Adolescent Inclusive Excellence Summer Program. “The program’s learning opportunities showcase the incredible career choice of child and adolescent psychiatry and also emphasize collaborative learning from one another and our communities. The medical journey is arduous and creating an understanding and encouraging network has the power to alleviate stress, promote medical student well-being and inspire future leaders to use their voices to positively impact their communities and mental health systems of care.”

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