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Adult and Child Health Awarded Funding to Expand and Develop Community Mental Health Workforce

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Adult and Child Health (A&C) was recently awarded $750,000 in grant funding for three years by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to enhance the local behavioral health workforce, improve accessibility to peer recovery services, and expand professional growth and development opportunities for Adult and Child Health employees.

Funds will support A&C’s efforts in two separate ways: training and certification for Community Health Workers (CHW) and Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) and the development of Career Pathways for A&C staff. Both initiatives link to A&C’s greater vision of cultivating equitable, caring communities, where every child, adult, and family have opportunities to live healthy, purposeful lives.

The demand for Community Health Workers (CHW) and Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) in Indiana far exceeds the number of available staff in the workforce.  CHW and CRS certification courses often have limited openings and a six month or longer waitlist, creating a significant barrier for individuals seeking certification. DMHA funding will support A&C becoming its own training site, creating an additional resource for staff and people in the community to draw upon their personal experience in mental health recovery and/or their professional work experience at A&C as they look to advance their mental health career through certification.     

To raise awareness and interest in CHW and CRS certification as a career option, A&C will partner with local high schools, adult education centers, and other organizations to provide information to the public. Built-in scholarship money will be made available for behavioral health technicians and recovery specialists who want to take their skills further. “At A&C, we know that our employees are our greatest asset,” said Denise Amato, Executive Vice President of Operations. “This grant funding should help us attract and connect with a new wave of compassionate, mission-driven people who are interested in pursuing a career in community mental health.”

In addition to expanding the certified health workers and peer specialist workforce, the DMHA grant award will be used to fund staff engagement, recruitment, and retention initiatives in A&C’s Career Pathways program, which promotes long-term growth opportunities for employees of Adult and Child Health.  DMHA grant funding will support increased staffing, mentoring, and training resources so that A&C employees have access to the tools and support needed to reach their career goals. This heightened focus on career growth and development is one of several initiatives in place to promote the well-being of Adult and Child’s workforce, including financial assistance for employee continuing education, opportunities to serve on diversity-focused taskforces, and access to health and wellness staff-led self-care groups that are supported within the organization.

A&C is honored to be one of only a few selected organizations from over 90 organizations who submitted proposals for the Behavioral Health Workforce Recruitment and Retention Innovation Grant Program. Both components of A&C’s planned use for grant funding will strengthen A&C’s workforce capacity, ultimately leading to better mental health services for persons in the community.

Adult & Child Health is an accredited nonprofit primary care, behavioral health, and social services provider with multiple locations in central Indiana. We strive for caring communities, where every child, adult and family have the opportunities they need to live healthy, happy, productive lives. Learn more at www.adultandchild.org.

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Sarah Miller, PMHNP-BC

Sarah Miller works with the addictions team, general psychiatry for adolescents and adults, and the competency restoration team. She is board-certified as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Her specialties are working in addictions and with people who experience serious mental illness.

Miller graduated from Indiana University with a psychology degree and went back to school for nursing. She received her nursing degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and worked in a nursing home and also spent time working in a group home with adolescents. She received her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University.

She enjoys hanging out with her family and her two dogs, and going to sporting events.

Joanna Chambers, MD

Dr. Joanna Chambers is a psychiatrist who began seeing Adult & Child Health patients in November 2021. She graduated from Medical College of Georgia with her Doctorate of Medicine in 1996 and completed her residency in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to bringing a wealth of experience, she currently serves as an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine where she teaches Clinical Psychiatry. She is certified in Addiction Medicine and has a special interest in treating pregnant and postpartum women. She is President of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry Organization as well as a sitting member of many medical association boards. Recently, she has won the Residents’ Award for Teaching Excellence in 2020 from Indiana University and has received “Best Doctors Award” in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Dr. Chambers is incredibly active in the medical, academic, and research realms of medicine. She is currently accepting new patients on Wednesdays.