MMI psychology department to offer free consultative clinics

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | May 13, 2020

Image with caption: From left, Jennifer Burt, Ph.D., and Alison Grennan, Ph.D.

From left, Jennifer Burt, Ph.D., and Alison Grennan, Ph.D.

The Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI) Psychology Department at UNMC will begin offering free behavioral telehealth consultative clinics.

Families of children age 18 or younger can access two free consultative appointments via the teleconferencing platform Zoom or by phone. Providing the services via telehealth also means they will be available to people across the entire state.

Psychology faculty Jennifer Burt, Ph.D., and Alison Grennan, Ph.D., are spearheading the effort. Members of the department -- including faculty, post-doctoral fellows and interns -- are volunteering their time for the clinic.

"All of the providers are licensed providers," Dr. Burt said.

The initiative is a combined effort by everyone at MMI and UNMC.

"With COVID-19, we know that there are a lot of unmet needs for behavioral health in our community and our state," Dr. Burt said.

Families are under significantly more stress right now, Dr. Burt said, often due to loss of jobs, working remotely, attending school remotely and with parents serving in the dual role of parent and educator, as well as many other stressors.

"Access to services is always important, but right now it's crucial because of the amount of stress that families and kids are under due to the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

The initiative is limited to two free consultative services to help the largest number of families access these services.

"This clinic will allow people to access short-term, quality support by licensed providers to assist with a specific challenge that they're experiencing right now," Dr. Burt said. "It's not designed to be ongoing, long-term therapy -- it's designed to meet families where they're at with a challenge and provide them some guidance during this difficult time."

MMI's patient resource coordinators also are donating time to the families served in this clinic with help accessing other resources and supports they may need to be safe and healthy.

"Our entire MMI and UNMC community have been extremely helpful and supportive," Dr. Burt said. "We had this idea a month ago, and the fact that's we're ready to roll -- with the number of people who had to support this effort and support it quickly -- leaves me feeling grateful and amazed."

Keith Allen, Ph.D., director of the MMI Department of Psychology, said he was proud of his team.

"Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but finding people who can take a good idea and make it happen is priceless," he said. "Drs. Burt and Grennan and their team took that good idea, corralled a group of equally dedicated faculty, intern and postdoc volunteers, and in the midst of constant COVID-19 chaos, made something special happen."

"MMI's mission is to serve the state, and in this time of great crisis, that takes not only dedication but vision and commitment," said Karoly Mirnics, Ph.D., director of MMI. "This initiative exemplifies MMI's never-ending drive to reach out and help the people we serve in spite of any obstacles."

Caregivers of youth 18 years of age and younger can call now to schedule an appointment. The first appointments will begin today. To schedule an appointment, families can call 402-559-6408 and say they are interested in scheduling an appointment with the free telehealth consultation clinic. (This is a non-emergency service. If a family is experiencing an emergency, contact the Nebraska Family Helpline at 888-866-8660 or 911.)

The department's planning and leadership team for the clinic also includes Mindy Chadwell, Ph.D., Tara Sjuts, Ph.D., and Christian Klepper, Psy. D.

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Frauke Wilcox
May 14, 2020 at 8:25 AM

Dr. Burt and team, I wanted to reach out and let you know how much I appreciate what you and your team are doing for the community. I am hoping that many those in need will take advantage of this opportunity and seek out these additional resources.

Daniel Johnson, MD
May 13, 2020 at 3:21 PM

Way to go Drs Burt and Grennan! This is fantastic.