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June 2021 Newsletter

A Look Back Over 25 Years of Service​

The past fifteen months have been very difficult in countless ways. Communities and individuals suffered tremendous losses, and many continue to struggle. Our hopes are for continued healing and recovery going forward.

The start of summer is generally a welcome transition: kids are out of school, people take vacations, days are long and full of activity, and Maine really is the best place to be. This summer in particular brings with it a sense of optimism and tangible relief from the restrictions of the past year due to COVID-19. Maine Governor Janet Mills recently announced that the State of Civil Emergency would end on June 30, 2021. “After fifteen long, difficult months, ending the State of Civil Emergency is a welcome milestone that reflects the progress Maine has made in getting people vaccinated, reducing the spread of the virus, and getting back to normal.” A welcome milestone indeed.

Another milestone we recognize this summer is USM’s Muskie School Center for Learning (CFL) 25th anniversary. For over two decades, the CFL has provided technical assistance, training logistics, policy consultation, and subject matter research in support of the behavioral health workforce.

In July 1996, the CFL was born out of a collaborative agreement between the Muskie School and the [then] Maine Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services (DMHRSAS), to administer the adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician (MHRT) and children’s other Qualified Mental Health Professional-Children’s (OQMPH-C) certification programs. Since then, the behavioral health landscape continues to shift and evolve in both dramatic and subtle ways. The Offices within the [now] Department of Health and Human Services have undergone reorganizations and name changes. Mental health and substance use disorder treatment modalities have become person-centered, inclusive and in the community whenever possible. Persons with lived experience are working in the field.

Other milestones over the decades include:

  • 1991 – The original design of the MHRT certification program featured several credentialing levels. Today there are three unique MHRT certifications: 1) MHRT/Community, 2) MHRT I, and 3) MHRT/CSP (crisis service provider).
  • 2005 – The Mental Health Support Specialist (MHSS) training program replaced the Residential Care Specialist (RCS). Today the MHSS is one requirement for the MHRT I certification.
  • 2009 – Competency in Vocational Aspects of Disabilities became a requirement for full MHRT/C certification.
  • 2014 – The [then] Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHS) convened stakeholder groups to redesign the MHRT/C.
  • 2018 – SAMHS implemented a Code of Ethics for MHRT I and MHRT/C certificate holders.
  • 2019 – Updated knowledge competencies and skills required to provide responsive, person-centered care to the population served by the MHRT/C, went into effect.


Following are a few of the significant enhancements to the updated MHRT/C program:

  • 15 colleges and universities around Maine offer 31 academic degree and/or certificate programs to earn the MHRT/C
  • 8 competency domain requirements versus the previous 10
  • 6 of the 8 domains are currently available as non-academic courses
  • 38 trainers across the state approved to teach one or more of the non-academic courses
  • 18-hour continuing education requirement for certificate renewal every two years
  • 2 levels of certification, provisional and full


There are many positive things to acknowledge and be grateful for this summer, and as always, we extend a sincere thank you to the providers, staff, academics, and trainers who continue to persevere and remain dedicated to those you serve.

Please note: In spite of the lifting of the Governor’s Civil State of Emergency due to COVID-19, MHRT/C certificate holders can continue to complete the entire 18-hour Continuing Education requirement online, until further notice. We will send out advance notice when OBH reinstates the face-to-face requirement. Please remember that at least four (4) of these hours must be in Ethics.

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