CUCS' PPOH receives an American Psychiatric Association Achievement Award

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img_0304_edited_3CUCS is thrilled to announce that our Project for Psychiatric Outreach to the Homeless (PPOH) has been recognized as a winner of the 2010 Psychiatric Services Achievement Awards. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) honored four outstanding mental health programs at an award presentation on October 14th at the opening session of the Institute on Psychiatric Services in Boston.

In recognition of our efforts and innovative approach to bringing psychiatric treatment to homeless adults and individuals living in supportive housing, PPOH was selected to receive the APA's Silver Achievement Award for 2010 along with a $7,500 prize made possible by a grant from Pfizer, Inc.

Although many homeless people have serious mental illnesses that affect their ability to seek and maintain housing, it is rare for them to voluntarily seek psychiatric treatment. PPOH addresses this gap by being the only program in the United States that is exclusively dedicated to recruiting, employing, and training community psychiatrists to work with homeless and formerly homeless adults in community-based programs and other nontraditional settings. As CUCS' Executive Director, Tony Hannigan, explains, "Psychiatry is fundamental to treating people who have a chronic mental illness and PPOH brings its services to many settings where psychiatrists would otherwise not be available."

PPOH is one of the largest psychiatric practices in New York City, employing 24 full-time, part-time, and per diem psychiatrists and four volunteer psychiatrists. Led by Medical and Program Director, Van Yu, MD, PPOH provides nearly 500 hours per week of psychiatrist time to 54 community programs serving homeless New Yorkers. In 2009 PPOH psychiatrists provided services to over 3,000 individuals, provided ongoing treatment to almost 700 people, and had over 10,000 clinical sessions.

Among the programs provided psychiatric services by PPOH are the Manhattan and Bronx street outreach teams charged with helping homeless adults living on the streets move into permanent housing. By conducting the evaluations needed to secure housing and entitlements, PPOH has helped these teams' house 500 people over the past three years. PPOH also provides psychiatrists to 20 supportive housing programs, helping over 1,500 people with mental illness remain psychiatrically stable.

In addition to direct services, PPOH works to advance the field of community psychiatry. Each year PPOH hosts 15 residents in clinical rotations from various medical schools across the city, serves as a placement site for the Columbia Public Psychiatry Fellowship, and participates in the community psychiatry courses for several psychiatry residency and fellowship programs. PPOH also has an online course for residents and fellows that provides information about the social, economic, and clinical issues pertaining to working with the homeless population, along with practical guidance about how to bring psychiatric practice to the homeless community. 

According to Stephen M. Goldfinger, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY, Downstate Medical Center and a member of the APA's editorial board, "The PPOH team embodies those characteristics of community psychiatry all should emulate. In addition to the direct services they provide- in shelters, residences and on the streets- PPOH has helped educate and inspire hundreds of young psychiatrists-in-training who will carry on their work, in New York and around the country. No program I can think of is more deserving of this award."

Kristen Edwards, Director of the Manhattan Street Outreach Consortium, Goddard Riverside Community Center states, "PPOH has been essential to our success in housing and providing clinical assessment and treatment to the chronic street homeless population. The psychiatrists on our teams take such a caring and creative approach in working with our clients, and they are excellent in providing clinical guidance to our staff."

Congratulations to Van Yu and his staff for this well-deserved recognition of their work.

For further information please check out the article from the Psychiatric Services by clicking here: Psychiatric Services Article on PPOH.


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