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A grant of $2.5 million has been awarded to the Montana Family Medicine Residency



Billings, Montana – A local medical residency program has been granted more than two million dollars, which will result in a significant increase in funding for mental health care throughout the entire state of Montana.

Doctors who are enrolled in the Montana Family Medicine Residency program, which is a collaboration between RiverStone Health, Billings Clinic, and St. Vincents Healthcare, will be eligible to receive funding in order to complete mental health training that is tailored specifically to the needs of children, teenagers, and young adults living in rural areas.

The grant was made available thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act the previous year.

The law broadens the scope of behavioral health education that is provided to family physicians during their residency programs, which results in increased access to mental health services in rural areas.

Julie Kelso, a psychiatrist who is both board-certified and the Project Director of the Montana Family Medicine Residency, says that there are a number of obstacles to overcome when it comes to providing mental health care to rural areas.

“I think there’s a lot of issues related to rural areas and mental health. Access is definitely an issue and then there’s a shortage in primary care providers in rural areas and isolation places a big factor.”

Even though the state’s population is getting younger, Montana has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

According to the findings of the youth risk behavior survey conducted in 2021, more than ten percent of students in grades 9 through 12 in the state of Montana attempted suicide.

According to Dr. Kelso, addressing issues related to mental health and substance abuse at an earlier stage can assist in finding a solution to this problem.

“Children and young adults are key because these are treatable conditions, and people get better and that’s going to impact the rest of that individual’s life and so I think focusing on younger people is really a key to improving mental health overall.”

The Montana Family Medicine Residency has been committed to the patients’ overall health and well-being for more than twenty years.

And Dr. Kelso thinks that the grant is evidence of the success of the residency program, which she is doing because she is interested in the future of behavioral health medicine in Montana.

The fact that Montana was awarded this grant is significant, and it is hoped that it will contribute to the fight against the mental health and substance abuse crises that are plaguing our state.

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