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Counseling Partnership Addresses Many Community Needs

Date: Jan. 22, 2002
Archive: General News

The UC Counseling Program is an active partner in the Substance Abuse/Mental Illness (SAMI) Initiative, an interdisciplinary partnership of community leaders who have joined together to address systemic issues affecting the care of people who have co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental illness.

With leadership by a multi-disciplinary team from Hamilton County including Dr. Nancy Janszen, associate director of QC/M and graduate of the UC doctoral program in counseling, the SAMI Initiative Oversight Committee has guided the formation of foundational collaborative agreements among the SAMI Initiative partners to enhance cooperation and collaboration among the diverse service agencies who have responsibility for the dually diagnosed client.

Adopting the motto, "No Wrong Door," the SAMI Initiative is striving to develop a treatment model for Cincinnati in which any SAMI client can obtain appropriate services at whichever agency the client first makes contact: mental health, chemical dependency, or criminal justice.

It is estimated that at least 50 percent of people with a mental illness also have a corresponding substance abuse disorder and may also have involvement with the criminal justice system. This group of people tends to require extensive services of which are labor intensive and expensive.

Unfortunately, many people with co-existing mental health and substance abuse concerns may have a difficult time obtaining full service, falling through the cracks between the mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, and criminal justice systems of care.

The SAMI Initiative partners include funders and providers of mental health services, funders and providers of alcohol and drug abuse services, criminal justice units including the police and adult and juvenile justice services, the United Way/Community Chest, the Department of Human Services, the UC Counseling Program (a trainer of mental health and substance abuse counselors), National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI: a local association for family members of people with mental health and substance use disorders), and representatives from the community of consumers of mental health services.

The UC Counseling Program has a long history of community involvement in mental health treatment. The program's curriculum of study for counselors includes training in both mental health and substance abuse counseling, and the program collaborates with the UC Criminal Justice program to offer specialized training for chemical dependency counselor certification.

Graduates of the counseling department can be found in many key roles in our community in health care facilities and in mental health leadership positions. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, several faculty in the program provide direct client services in a variety of community settings and serve on governing boards of health care institutions. The UC Counseling Program is represented on the SAMI Initiative Leadership Team by F. Robert Wilson, a UC professor of counseling. Wilson provides counseling services at the Health Resource Center of Cincinnati, a free clinic for the homeless mentally ill.

The collaborative SAMI Initiative is supported by the organizations involved in the planning and implementation process and by The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati including an initial grant of $64,334 and an operations grant of $207,700.

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