Behavioral Health Support Receives State Recognition
Monday, August 8, 2022
With mental health issues on the rise, the need for behavioral health support professionals has never been greater. These professionals have a proven track record of creating better client outcomes and experiences as well as reducing overall health care costs.
A few years ago, St. Louis Community College recognized this need and developed a program to train individuals to do this work. The result was the creation of STLCC’s associate in applied science degree in behavioral health support. Launched in 2019, this program equips graduates with the skills needed to obtain employment as a support professional in the areas of addiction, disabilities, education support, mental health and psychiatric care.
Last month, STLCC received a three-year approval from Missouri’s Department of Mental Health for its behavioral health support degree. According to Jenna Mueller, MA, LPC, NCC, program coordinator, this recognition reflects the quality of the education students receive in this program at STLCC.
“We know that mental health care is critical to supporting an individual’s overall health, so we sought to create a program that would provide students with relevant, real-world experience so they can do the important work of helping others,” Mueller said.
Along with classroom discussions and training in mental health first aid, students gain hands-on training by completing practicum hours at contracted behavioral health provider agencies.
“This robust combination of classroom knowledge and community-based learning ensures that our graduates are prepared to step into full-time roles as support specialists where they can go on to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others,” Mueller explained.
James Greco enrolled in the behavioral health support program at STLCC-Florissant Valley, determined to expand his knowledge and further his career.
“I’m currently a lead residential technician at a community-based rehabilitation center for adults. The work is challenging, yet rewarding,” he said. “I chose to pursue my associate degree in behavioral health support at STLCC because I wanted to take my competence level up and grow in my career. The experiences I’ve gained have done just that, and I look forward to leveraging my degree for career success.”
The job outlook for trained professionals in behavioral health support is strong, with employment opportunities outpacing workers. In an effort to support individuals who are interested in entering this line of work, STLCC received a grant to provide financial aid for students enrolled in its behavioral health support program. The funding is through the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a $1.2 million federal award.
“For those who qualify, now is a great time to pursue a degree in behavioral health support,” Mueller said. “If you’re passionate about helping others, and you want to work in mental health, I encourage you to reach out to discuss how STLCC can help you achieve your college and career goals.”