Psychiatric Mental Health at UW-Milwaukee

Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016), according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Many of these disorders are identified mid to late adolescence, but left untreated, resulting in lifetime symptoms.

Mental health care remains a national unmet need and a need within the state of Wisconsin. Lack of access is due to poor insurance, or no insurance coverage and a lack of providers. According to Mental Health America, almost 15% of adults (over 6.3 million) with a mental illness remain uninsured and therefore are unable to access care.

UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing currently graduates more students than any other nursing school in the state. Our students and alumni are prepared for careers as clinicians and leaders. Our direct entry master of nursing degree, established in 2013, prepares students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. Students come from all backgrounds to pursue an advanced nursing degree and begin practicing as a nurse during their program. UWM has graduated more than 140 direct entry master’s students since the program’s inception.

Our students have the ability within the program to utilize their residency to focus on a specialty in nursing. Recent graduate Michael Mikulay (‘18 Master of Nursing) did just that with an interest and specialty in mental and behavioral health. He came to UWM as a master’s prepared artist and designer who had an underlying sense he wanted to pursue a career that directly helped others. He recalls, “I went into nursing as I have witnessed through the struggle of aging parents, the impact nurses make.” Mikulay went on to explain, “mental health is a narrative-based nursing career versus task-based,” which compliments his creativity abilities.

As a first-year direct entry student in Dr. Kay Jansen’s Mental Health Nursing course, Mikulay grew very curious and interested in the subject matter she was teaching. Through the course, Dr. Jansen identified his interest and challenged him to consider employment at local behavioral health facilities, where he currently practices.

Mikulay conducted his residency at his place of employment. His project was entitled “Implementing a Caregiver Training Program to Increase Sensory Room Use.” His workplace had recently constructed a low stimulation, sensory facility on the Child and Adolescent Unit to help patients control their emotions and behaviors. Originally only one person was trained to use the room during business hours, however Mikulay assessed the facility and supported a quality improvement project that led to him developing and training additional staff on the sensory facility, leading to improved patient access and outcomes. Sensory units are being used in the facilities as a safe place for patients to destress and refocus, to avoid an escalation of agitation or aggressive behavior.

Dr. Jansen describes Mikulay; “Michael is an exceptional, self-reflective professional nurse. He has embraced nursing and its values and I am proud to be his mentor. He has enhanced my life as an educator and psychiatric mental health nurse” Currently, Mikulay is enjoying his work with adolescents and children with plans to continue impacting this population through his nursing practice.

UWM working to impact the workforce of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners in Wisconsin
UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing continues to graduate more students than any other nursing school in the state. The college is excited to announce the launch of a Post-Master’s Online Psychiatric Mental Health Certificate (pending approval) and Doctor of Nursing Practice track in Psychiatric Mental Health, beginning in Spring 2019.

Students who are prepared as Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners can enroll in the Post-Master’s Online Certificate and complete the degree in as little as one year. Students interested in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program enter the program with a bachelor’s or master’s to focus in Psychiatric Mental Health.

UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing, through the generosity and scholarship support from the Adel B. Korkor MD Foundation, are offering two $12,500 scholarships for students in the Psychiatric Mental Health certificate or Doctor of Nursing Practice. Together we are working to improve the unmet mental health needs for the citizens of Wisconsin.

The absence of childhood onset alone does not preclude a behavioral mental disorder: 50% of all US adults suffer from at least one mental illness in their lifetime with many adults (45%) suffering two or more disorders, increasing risk of physical diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Mental health care remains a national unmet need and a need within the state of Wisconsin. Lack of access is due to poor insurance or no insurance coverage and to a lack of providers. Almost 15% of adults (over 6.3 million) adults with a mental illness remain uninsured and therefore are unable to access care. With increasing national coverage, the uninsured rate is improving (3% reduction). Fifty-seven percent of adults with mental illness received no treatment in the past year due to access issues, and for those seeking treatment, 21% report unmet treatment needs. Students enrolling in this certificate would already be advanced practice nurses, including Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. The integration of behavioral health and general healthcare would ensure individuals’ mental health needs and their physical manifestations are met and identified more quickly.