Eastern Michigan University receives $167,002 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to expand access to early childhood mental health services in Washtenaw County

Two-year service grant to benefit EMU students with opportunities for hands-on learning while providing critical mental health services to preschool children in Washtenaw County

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YPSILANTI— Eastern Michigan University has received $167,002 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund) to expand access to early childhood mental health services in Washtenaw County as part of the Health Fund’s Behavioral Health grants program, which aims to improve access to high-quality, person-centered mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) healthcare.

The Health Fund awarded $11.2 million to 35 recipients in Michigan, including EMU and other schools, health centers, nonprofits, and health departments. The initiatives selected fall into five priority areas: school-based mental health capacity, innovative models of care, innovative technology, efficient entry and seamless transitions in care, and racial disparities in follow-up care.

The grant will go toward the EMU Community Behavioral Health Center’s Early Childhood Satellite clinics, which offer specialty services for young children ages 1-5 and their families. The money will help fund two years of a School-Based Early Childhood Behavioral Health Program, which will help to increase access to early childhood mental health services by delivering no-cost psychological assessments and therapy integrated into early learning centers, while creating a sustainable training opportunity for graduate students.

As part of the program, student clinicians from the EMU Community Behavioral Health Center who are working to earn their doctorate or masters degrees in psychology will work with children and their families at select preschools in Washtenaw County to address emotional and behavioral issues as early on as possible. 

“This program will be highly beneficial for both our students, who will get valuable hands-on experience working with youth and their families, and for the youth and their families, who will receive critical therapy to address mental health concerns before they escalate,” said EMU Assistant Professor of Psychology, Jamie Lawler. “The funds not only make it possible to help children and their families with emotional and behavioral issues, it gives EMU students real-life experience and training opportunities that are critical to their success upon graduation.”

The first cohort of students will have the opportunity to work with children in the Children's Institute at Eastern Michigan University, the YMCA Ypsilanti Child Development Center, and the Ford Early Learning Center. Students will conduct individual therapy with children and their families, as well as consult with the teachers to help them better address emotional and behavioral issues in children in the classroom, such as trauma, anxiety, depression, oppositionality, defiance, sleep problems, and more.

“We’ll have six students in the first cohort, with plans to grow the program to eight to 10 students in the second year, and hopefully even expand our work into additional preschools in the area in the future,” said Lawler.

The initiative will also include a three-day training with a psychology team at the University of Michigan on their strong roots model, which is an attachment-based parent and child intervention model.

“It’s fairly unique for a student to get the opportunity to be trained in interventions for such a young age group (preschoolers),” said Lawler. “This training will be incredibly beneficial to our students.”

Lawler will also be trained on the model so that she can train future students of the program.

For more information about the Early Childhood Satellite Clinics, visit the clinic homepage.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

September 08, 2021

Written by:
Morgan Mark

Morgan Mark