UofM Receives $1.89 Million to Combat Opioid Crisis

August 19, 2019 - The University of Memphis received two grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to train future behavioral health services providers in substance abuse and opioid treatment.

Three professors in psychology – Dr. Meghan McDevitt-Murphy (principal investigator), Dr. James Murphy and Dr. Frank Andrasik – received a Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) grant. The GPE will provide support to clinical psychology doctoral students who focus on learning therapy techniques for substance use disorders with an emphasis on opioid addiction. Partners for this grant include the UT Health Science Center for Addiction Science and Church Health. The total award is $991,446.

For the second grant, an interdisciplinary team received an Opioid Workforce Expansion Program (OWEP) Paraprofessionals award from HRSA to establish the Memphis Opioid Workforce Paraprofessional Expansion Program (MOW-PEP). This grant will provide training and stipends to undergraduate students from counseling, criminal justice, human services, psychology and social work who complete a certificate in substance abuse with an emphasis on opioid addiction.

“These two generous grants will allow the University of Memphis to expand its work in fighting substance abuse, especially opioid addiction, which has become a crisis in our community and throughout the country,” said UofM President M. David Rudd.

Dr. Melissa Hirschi (principal investigator) of the School of Social Work is leading this grant in collaboration with Drs. Michelle Brasfield and Stephen Zanskas, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research; Dr. Deranda Lester, Department of Psychology; Dr. James McCutcheon, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice; and Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes, School of Social Work. Partners for this grant include Church Health, Case Management Inc., the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition, the Hospitality Hub, the Wellness & Stress Clinic and Quinco Community Mental Health Center Inc. The total award is $897,342.

“The Mid-South continues to have a high incidence of substance use disorders and a shortage of behavioral health professionals,” said Neely-Barnes, director of the School of Social Work. “We are pleased that this training opportunity is available to address critical shortages in our region.”

Both grants are awarded for three years. The two grant teams will be collaborating to offer an annual symposium on opioid addiction. The symposia will be held each spring and open to both students in the program and behavioral health professionals in the community.