Media Contacts

Jerilyn Stowe

Assoc Director, PR/Communications, Huntsman Mental Health Institute
Email: jerilyn.stowe@hsc.utah.edu

Jan 14, 2021 10:00 AM

Today, University of Utah Health and the Huntsman Foundation celebrate the dedication of Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI), the next step in the evolution of University of Utah becoming a premier institution for mental health research and training while continuing its tradition of exceptional mental health care.

“The dedication of Huntsman Mental Health Institute is a culmination of decades of innovative work in the field of mental health,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “The launch of HMHI allows us to better address the urgent need for enhanced mental health care, and our partnership with the Huntsman family furthers our goal to expand critical services across the state to ensure better outcomes for the people of Utah.” 

With the formal dedication, the university’s full-service 170-bed hospital facility and network of outpatient clinics, formerly University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), are now under the new Huntsman Mental Health Institute brand. The services and continuum of care provided through the hospital and clinics will now be HMHI clinics and remain part of University of Utah Health.

In November 2019, the University of Utah announced a $150 million commitment from the Huntsman Foundation to establish Huntsman Mental Health Institute. Some of the work supported by the Foundation includes student mental health, increased access to mental health services in rural Utah communities, and expansion of research initiatives, including research on the genetic basis of mental health conditions.

“As the next generation charged with overseeing the Foundation, we felt compelled to focus on the underfunded and stigmatized issue of mental health,” said Christena Huntsman Durham, Executive V.P., Huntsman Foundation. “Our dream is to make Utah the mental health model that will inspire others across the country to emulate. We are honored to partner with the University of Utah to enhance mental health care and work to normalize mental health challenges that impact every family and every community.” 

The University of Utah has a long history of advancing mental health care in Utah, beginning in 1948 with the establishment of the Department of Psychiatry. In 1986, University of Utah Health and the Western Institute of Neuropsychiatry (WIN) hospital formed a unique public-private partnership where the University Department of Psychiatry clinicians provided mental health services. In 1994, the University purchased WIN, and its name was changed to University Neuropsychiatric Institute or, as it is commonly known, UNI.

In recent years, the research faculty has tripled in size, and additional outpatient clinics have opened across the Wasatch Front. The Crisis Line and SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line were also added as critical state-wide services provided by UNI. In November 2020, it was announced that Mark Rapaport, M.D., would be the inaugural CEO of HMHI and new chair of the Department of Psychiatry. Rapaport began his new position on January 1, 2021. 

“For more than 35 years, University of Utah has been a recognized leader in mental health training, treatment, and care,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., CEO of U of U Health, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. “Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Huntsman Foundation, partnered with the leadership of new CEO Dr. Mark Rapaport, we are positioned to dramatically transform how mental health care is perceived, delivered, and studied to better serve our patients and the community.” 

Under Rapaport’s leadership, HMHI will initially focus on the following priorities that address the lack of access to services and better meet the growing need for mental health care across the state:  

Clinical Services 

  • Grow mental health integration programs with primary care providers to improve access and treatment in rural and underserved communities
  • Expand SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line to Utah first responders, medical professionals, and other states
  • Expand access to child and teen mental health programs, maternal mental health, and young adult programs 

Research 

  • Expand expertise in translational research approaches to better inform brain health 
  • Strengthen interdisciplinary research collaboration to enhance rapid discovery of underlying causes of mood disorders, suicide, anxiety, and addiction
  • Advance the development of state-of-the-art technology for diagnosis

Training 

  • Expand the interdisciplinary workforce for the state of Utah to increase access to care for mental health and substance use disorders
  • Enhance training tracks and specialization in women’s health, rural and underserved populations, global health, school-based mental health, and neuropsychiatry 

Community Outreach 

  • Enhance efforts to counter discrimination of individuals with mental health challenges
  • Increase advocacy and collaboration on critical mental health policy priorities to expand access to treatment and care across the state
  • Expand partnership with community-based organizations focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity afforded to me by the University of Utah and the Huntsman family,” Rapaport said. “I see HMHI as a nexus that will bring the campus together, from undergraduate and graduate programs to the health sciences and medical school. It’s an opportunity for us to create a one-of-a-kind model that will help break down the stigma of mental illness and enable us to educate providers and patients in both urban and rural areas of Utah.”

For more information about Huntsman Mental Health Institute, visit healthcare.utah.edu/hmhi

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