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In Stressful Time, VCU Offering New Behavioral Health Training

VCU building
VCU College of Health Professions building. (File photo: David Sundberg/Esto)

VCU is offering short online classes for behavioral health professionals that focus on helping workers understand, identify and treat underlying issues like addiction.

Denise Hall is the clinical coordinator in VCU’s Department of Rehabilitation Counseling and helped put together some of the modules. She says some behavioral health workers in Virginia are required to take continuing education to stay licensed.

“All of these people work directly... with clients in the community,” Hall said.

Hall says the program’s original focus was on the opioid epidemic, but “we’ve broadened that because we know from research that a great number of people have co-occurring issues.”

Amy Armstrong heads the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at the school. She says topics like the opioid epidemic, alcohol addiction and trauma are relevant everywhere.

“Man, these issues that we’re talking about touch every family in Virginia,” she said.

And there is growing evidence that the coronavirus pandemic has lent extra urgency to problems like substance use disorders. A VCU study from this year showed nonfatal overdoses skyrocketing - and more recent research bears that out.

Lessons on alcohol addiction, suicide risk and working with transgender patients are included, and Hall says new offerings will be added in the new year.

To make the program more accessible for professionals who may not be able to attend in-person classes, Armstrong says they designed the courses to be taken online.

All of the courses are available to the general public on the VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education’s website.