New grants aims to improve mental health, addiction access in rural IN


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (ADAMS) – The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has awarded a total of 60 student loan repayment grants to practitioners across Indiana to help ensure that Hoosiers have adequate access to mental health, substance use and primary care.

“Ensuring more people can access quality care for substance use and skilling up Indiana’s workforce are among Governor Holcomb’s top priorities,” said Indiana executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement Jim McClelland. “Empowering students to become health care professionals is a win both for the students and the Indiana communities where their expertise will save lives and help people enter and maintain recovery.”

ISDH is investing $300,000 in the student loan repayment program, and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will match that amount. Thirty awards are issued in each of the four years of the grant.

The funding provides an incentive for physicians, psychiatrists, alcohol and substance use counselors and practitioners in related disciplines to practice in specific, federally designated areas experiencing health professional shortages and those that have experienced deaths from opioid use. The program is available to practitioners in any Indiana county, with priority given to Blackford, Dearborn, Fayette, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Switzerland, Union and Wayne counties.

“Like many states, Indiana is working to increase access to treatment for those battling substance use disorder. This is a challenge in many rural communities, which also face a shortage of primary care providers,” said Ann Alley, director of the ISDH Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care and Rural Health, which administers the program. “By removing some of the financial barriers to practicing in underserved areas, we hope to build resources and ensure that all Hoosiers have access to the care they need.”

Applications for the next round are available online.