Area students educated on behavioral health careers

Submitted photoSylvia Phillips (left) and Sarah Poltrack, two area college students interning with the East Indiana Area Health Education Center, Batesville, participate in an active listening exercise during Behavioral Health Careers Day June 7 in Lawrenceburg. The event, hosted by Community Mental Health Center and co-sponsored by CMHC and East Indiana AHEC, provided students an opportunity to learn about careers in the behavioral health field.

Students from two local high schools, along with two college interns, recently participated in a Behavioral Health Careers Day event hosted by Community Mental Health Center, Inc., Lawrenceburg, and co-sponsored by CMHC and the East Indiana Area Health Education Center.

The day-long workshop, held June 7, gave students the opportunity to tour some of CMHC’s facilities, to increase their knowledge of therapeutic listening and empathy skills, and to become certified in the Question-Persuade-Refer model for suicide prevention. According to Kevin A. Kennedy, Sr., public relations manager, workshop participants discussed individual character strengths and how to use these strengths, and also were able to experience a simulation of auditory hallucinations, a common symptom of some serious mental illnesses.

Students from Lawrenceburg High School and South Dearborn High School participated in the workshop, as well as one intern each from the University of Evansville and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

For many, the highlight of the day was a question-and-answer session with clinical staff members from CMHC about careers in the mental health field. Students had a chance to talk with mental health counselors, a social worker, a psychiatrist, an advanced practice nurse and a case manager.

“East Indiana AHEC was excited to work with CMHC on Behavioral Health Careers Day,” said Jeff Hartz, executive director of East Indiana AHEC. “Providing local students information about the variety of professional paths in the mental health field is important both to help students make informed college and career plans and also to address our region's shortage of mental health care providers.”

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in the mental health field is expected to expand faster than average as nearly one in five people in the United States have a mental health condition. Demand for mental health services continues to increase. According to the BLS website, “Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth is expected as people continue to seek addiction and mental health counseling.”

“CMHC was excited to put this program on for the second consecutive year, working with EI-AHEC. Workforce issues continue to be a significant challenge in the behavioral health field,” said CMHC Executive Director Tom Talbot.

“This event offered an excellent opportunity to explore future career choices for students. Our field offers rewarding career opportunities, ones that save lives and make significant differences in the lives of those we serve,” Talbot said.

East Indiana AHEC is headquartered in Batesville and works in the counties of Bartholomew, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley, Rush, Union, Wayne and Switzerland. It is one of eight area health education centers in the state.

For information about East Indiana AHEC, call 765-251-8551, e-mail info@cmhcinc.org or visit www.eiahec.org.

CMHC uses a network of facilities in Batesville, Brookville, Lawrenceburg, St. Leon and Vevay to provide services in the region. Counties in CMHC’s service area are Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley, and Switzerland. The Center employs professional staff members to provide many community services.

Those dealing with depression, anger, stress, substance use problems or addiction, grief or another mental health issue should contact CMHC at 812-537-1302 or visit www.cmhcinc.org. Emergency services are available anytime by calling 877-849-1248.