MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- West Virginia University will be expanding its research on health support for the community.  

The university is receiving a $250,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare. The grant will help fund a small sample of an already undergoing research project of find what the best online process is to help West Virginia’s that are under-resourced and uninsured with mental health issues

“We think these digital tools can fill this gap, they offer the benefit of allowing the person to do them in their home with support in some cases with someone who can help guide them through the process,” Robert Bossarte, WVU Health Sciences Director and Associate Professor said. “They’re evidence-based meaning that we know they work for some people. The trick is to find people who they work well for and particularly for the most vulnerable of West Virginians, those without health insurance or those who may have health insurance without behavioral health benefits. What we hope is that we’re able to provide tools or some guidance, not just to clinicians, but to people of the general population about which tools may work best and which tools may work best for certain types of people so that people are encouraged to reach out, use these tools and have some guidance.”

The donation is part of a $11.4 million donation across 18 states for UHC’s Empowering Health grants.  Empowering Health grants focus on expanding access to care and addressing the social determinants of health for people in underserved communities.  

“Social and economic factors have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining good health,” said Joe Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare – Mid-Atlantic. “Through Empowering Health, we’re working with West Virginia University to provide West Virginians with greater access to essential resources in high-risk and high-need communities so they can live healthier lives.”   

The grant will also help the university assist with challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues. 

UnitedHealthcare has been committed to their Empowering Health program since 2018.