This fall, Minnesota State Community and Technical College begins offering a new program designed to fill a gap in the care provided to children with mental illnesses.
The college’s 16-credit Mental Health Behavioral Aide II certificate was created in response to the Minnesota Legislature’s efforts to improve training for workers in the field of mental health care, said Gary Henrickson, dean of academics on M State’s Fergus Falls campus.
After lawmakers directed the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to create an MHBAII certification program during the 2013 legislative session, M State and Minneapolis Community and Technical College volunteered to take the lead in its development.
The 16-credit certificate – available through online courses – was developed by the colleges with the collaboration of state mental health policy and provider representatives and advocates for individuals with mental illness, including the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, said the original legislation was introduced “to address a problem we saw in the children’s mental health system.”
“We do have workforce shortages, especially in children’s mental health,” Abderholden said. “This (MHBAII certificate program) creates a nice pathway into the field, and it helps (mental health) providers by creating a pool of people who understand the basics and are ready to begin working with children and their families.”
Behavioral aides work under the supervision of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals to support skill-building services for children with mental illnesses.
Henrickson said M State has developed one new course for the MHBAII certificate program, Introduction to Mental Health Behavioral Aide II. The other required courses, which were previously offered by the college, include two psychology courses, a child development course and a multicultural studies course.
For more information, visit minnesota.edu/programs/mental-health-behavioral-aide or call 1-877-450-3322.