The University of St. Francis in Joliet received authorization to offer a specific program designed to combine mental health and substance abuse training and education.
The Illinois Certification Board authorized USF, placing the college in select company among its peers throughout the state, according to a news release.
“Substance use and mental health disorders are often diagnosed together in patients,” said Lawrence Dunbar, a USF professor and substance abuse counseling program coordinator, in the release.
The Illinois Certification Board and Substance Abuse Counseling Program at USF both endorse the concept that the treatment of dually diagnosed substance use and mental health disorders is a specialty field necessitating competent professionals, Dunbar said.
“We see a varied population with ranges from slight or moderate issues to truly severe and profound,” Dunbar added.
Students who complete the substance abuse counseling degree program at USF, and complete the Illinois Certification Board counselor credential, will have fulfilled the education requirements for the Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorder Professional Level 1 Registration as credentialed by the Illinois Certification Board.
The CODP-1 registration, in addition to the CADC certification, helps prepare students to work in a difficult, but growing field.
This combination of credentials, education and experiences is highly valued and requested by Illinois behavioral health providers, according to USF.
“It is in the news every day,” Dunbar said. “There is an alarming amount of problematic use of alcohol and other drugs.”
He said physical problems, difficulty at work, deteriorating relationships and ultimately, death, could dictate how society provides care and counsel to people who experience mental illness and substance abuse.
Dunbar said the Substance Abuse Counseling Program at USF prepares students to become the professionals we need to go out into the community and assist others in rebuilding their lives, creating healthy relationships and putting families back together.
For information on the program, visit its website at stfrancis.edu/