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$100K grant to Upstate aims to boost mental health treatment across CNY

An exterior view of Upstate Medical University.
Tarryn Mento
An exterior view of Upstate Medical University.

Upstate Medical University will train Central New York physicians to better address mental health disorders thanks to a new $100,000 grant.

Dr. Seetha Ramanathan, medical director for Upstate University Hospital’s adult outpatient psychiatry clinic, said primary care doctors are already treating mental health conditions, but there is more to understand about the disorders.

"It won’t be just depression and anxiety, but some of the other things that they can be trained in identification and treatment of bipolar disorder or working with a suicidal patient," Ramanathan said.

Ramanathan said its current work with Colgate University, a program sponsor, shows how the expertise at Upstate can be beneficial to other medical teams in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic particularly took a toll on the mental health of young people, both in and out of college. Ramanathan said when Colgate's medical team could only do so much to help students struggling with their mental health, the doctors turned to the more experienced specialists at Upstate.

"At least from my experience with Colgate, what we did notice was that the medical team actually addressed a lot of the mental health issues, and they moved students to the mental health team only when they did not feel like they had the capacity or the ability or the competency to do it," Ramanathan said.

While they have yet to reach out to Syracuse University or Onondaga Community College, Ramanathan encouraged colleges in the area to register for training programs created by the grant in the near future.

“Once we get the topics, our plan is to organize workshops which will be led by experts in each of these areas, and then, subsequently we’ll have an audio visual learning platform that Upstate has been implementing for quite some time.”

The $100,000 grant was awarded from the Patrick P. Lee Foundation that focuses on mental health and education.

Matt Wrigley comes from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and is pursuing his Broadcast and Digital Journalism degree at Newhouse. His goal is to be a beat writer for a Philadelphia sports team or a broadcaster for NBC/NBC Sports. This semester at WAER, he's looking forward to gaining confidence with interviews and improving his news writing.