Co-Occuring Disorders Training

The Co-Occurring Disorders Training is designed to provide consumer participatns witha basic understanding of addiction and the complexities encountered when an individual has a mental illness and a substance use disorder. Like Core Training, Co-Occurring classes prepare participants to provide non-clinical services, such as case management or educational services, to individuals and families affected by both disorders. The faculty for Co-Occurring Disorders Training is comprised of professionals possessing graduate degrees and licenses/certifications related to mental health and addictions. This training is 36 hours and takes place over 6 days.

Training topics include:

• Assessment / Differential Diagnosis

• Addiction Focused Counseling

• Family Counseling

• HIV/AIDS Resources

• Addiction Recovery

To be considered for admission into this series, applicants must have completed the Consumer Connections ore Training. If students have obtained their Community Mental Health Associate (CMHA) certification, completed the Co-Occurring Training, and have work experience with an appropriate population, they may apply for the Co-Occurring Disorders Associate (CODA). Like the CMHA, this credential is focused on activities that bring services, resources and people together to achieve established goals.

All credentials are Associate level and are not intended for private practice.

Private practitioners must possess a license issued by the NJ Department of Consumer Affairs. Consumer Connections staff is available to assist graduates with the application process.

Consumer Connections Workforce and Development

The Consumer Connections Employment and Workforce Development services include componentes which assist consumers with finding employment in the mental health and social service fields, gain additional related experience to increase their prospects of being hired, and provide opportunities to learn about and maintain wellness and recovery while working.

The Job Opportunity Bank (JOB)

JOB provides members of Consumer Connections access to a centralized data bank in which to search for paid and volunteer jobs. The Job Opportunity Bank can also help employers hire qualified consumer providers. Employers with job openings can submit information relevant to the position available. The JOB will then suggest potential consumer interviewees based on their skills and experience.

The Job Opportunity Bank also hosts a consumer accessible web page where employers can post open positions.

Internship Program

The Internship Program provides consumers with skill building experiences while receiving support through Consumer Connections. These unpaid work experiences with mental health agencies provide consumers with opportunities to determine their interest and suitability for working as peer support specialists. The internship experience also builds their resumes, making them more marketable. The goal of the Internship Program is to solidify a consumer’s skill base for human service positions and to increase his/her marketability in the mental health and social service job markets.

Consumer Connections Core Training

Core Training is the oldest and most well-known Consumer Connections program. It is designed to offer consumer participants with a broad spectrum of training and education in areas that are fundamental to providing non-clinical services to other mental health consumers. Core Training consists of 17 class days, which are held twice per week, six hours per day, for approximately eight weeks. Classes are informal and are taught in a seminar style. Core faculty is comprised of experienced mental health professionals who possess graduate degrees and licenses/certifications in their respective disciplines.

Topics Covered in Core Training

• Basic Helping Skills: Exploring Effective Communication and Helping Techniques

• Overview of Mental Illness

• Understanding the Assessment Process

• Basics of Treatment Planning

• Medication Education

• The Dimensions of Wellness

• Understanding the Importance of Family Involvement

• Overview of Co-Occurring Disorders

• NJ’s System of Care: Health, Mental Health and Human Services

• Advocacy

• Crisis Intervention and Trauma

• Sifting Through SSA and Entitlement Programs: Understanding What Will Happen When I Go Back to

• Basic Principles of Case Management

• Understanding Culture and Its Impact on the Helping Process

• Ethical and Legal Issues for Helping Professionals

• Exploring Avenues for Professional Development and Using Supervision Effectively

• Resume Writing and Completing Job Applications

• Effective Job Interviewing Skills

A Brief History of Consumer Connections

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s leadership in the wellness and recovery movement and commitment to expanding mental health consumer employment is reflected in our Consumer Connections program.

In the early 1990’s, MHANJ secured grant funding to create a pilot project to train consumers as outreach workers and case managers. The grant also allowed the MHANJ to create Peer Outreach Support Teams (POST) which employed the newly trained consumers in homeless outreach programs. Their impact on homeless outreach efforts was substantial and paved the way for a consumer provider training program that would impact a broader range of public mental health services.

In 1997, through a contract with the NJ Division of Mental Health Services, the project was reborn as Consumer Connections. The initial mission of Consumer Connections was to train consumer providers to work in Programs for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT), in Integrated Case Management Services (ICMS) and in staff expanded self help centers. Consumer Connections trained 350 consumers within its first three years. Ninety five percent of the participants completed the training, and 70% secured employment within NJ’s mental health system. With the early success of the program, the scope of training and the variety of positions in the mental health system held by consumer providers were further expanded.

Since its inception, Consumer Connections has been recognized as an innovative program and has received:

• The National Mental Health Association’s Innovative Program of the Year Award

• The Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for an Advocacy Program

• The National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors’ Award for Innovation in Community Behavioral Healthcare

• US Department of Labor’s recognition as a “Best Practice” in workforce development for consumer providers

• The Commonwealth Fund recognition as a promising innovation in behavioral healthcare

• The Annapolis Coalition’s Consumer Innovation Programming Award

• The National Association of Peer Specialists recognition as a national model for training

In 1999, as a direct result of Consumer Connections’ work in creating a consumer provider workforce, the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provided funding to the MHANJ to support the creation of the Consumer Provider Association of NJ, the only state level consumer organization focusing on the development and support of consumer providers.

Consumer Connections continually reviews and updates its trainings to ensure it is bringing the best and most current information to participants. It also continues to expand the scope of training as consumer providers become employed in a wider variety positions and in more varied areas of behavioral health care.

Consumer Connections, funded by the NJ Division of Mental Health Services and the Mental Health Association in NJ, continues to evolve its training, support services, and partnerships to strengthen and expand the consumer provider workforce in New Jersey and to provide leadership on a national level for this vital emerging group of behavioral health care workers.

Back to Consumer Connections

Funding for Superstorm Sandy Recovery
Efforts through Generous Grants from:
American Red Cross Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Inc.

Address: 673 Morris Ave., Suite 100
                        Springfield, NJ 07081

Telephone: 1.800.367.8850 Toll-Free

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