Students with lived experience of mental health or substance use recovery can now earn a certificate in behavioral health at College of DuPage thanks to a newly awarded grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health.
Launching in fall 2022, the 16-hour Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) program will prepare students for an entry level position in the behavioral health workforce, specifically in the areas of substance use and mental health recovery. Certified Recovery Support Specialists use their lived experience to help others gain hope and achieve specific life and recovery goals.
Students in the program will receive full funding to overcome practical barriers to success, including tuition, textbook costs, application fees, childcare and transportation.
COD Human Services Associate Professor Jason Florin said that there is a critical and growing need for mental health support professionals in DuPage County.
The rapidly growing peer workforce is an integral part of behavioral health treatment. Increasingly in the last decade, these highly trained and competent individuals are being hired in a variety of different health care settings, non-profits and other recovery-oriented systems.
COD Human Services Associate Professor Jason Florin
Certified Recovery Support Specialists bring not only their expertise, but compassion, hope, and honesty to any team offering treatment and recovery services, said COD Human Services Professor Andrea Polites.
“The new CRSS program at COD creates a win-win scenario,” she said. “The organization hiring someone in recovery gains an employee with competency in utilizing their life experiences to help others, and upon completion of our program, the student is qualified for gainful employment, where they can leverage their lived experience to support and mentor others, while expanding their skillset,” she said.
Program graduates can sit for two certification exams through the Illinois Certification Board—Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) or Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS).