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March 2024 Newsletter

MHSS Curriculum Update

We are pleased to report the Mental Health Support Specialist (MHSS) Curriculum has been updated. First introduced on July 1, 2005, MHSS replaced Residential Care Specialist (RCS) as a required training for MHRT I certification. While it has received minor updates over the past nineteen years, this was the first major update to the curriculum, including:

  • Updated knowledge competencies
  • Consolidation of a few of the modules
  • A new module on Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Online course Evaluation and final Exam
  • Attendees can now instantly download their MHSS certificate upon successfully passing the final exam.

In the first two weeks of March, 28 current MHSS instructors received the new curriculum and attended a recertification training. Additionally, 36 individuals completed a train-the-trainer session to become MHSS instructors. Many thanks go out to Scott Morrison of Ascentria Care Alliance for facilitating these trainings in Augusta and Bangor. To review a current list of MHSS instructors on the CFL website.

Change in MHRT I Requirements as of October 1, 2024

As mentioned above, MHSS replaced RCS on July 1, 2005. The RCS dates to the early 1990’s and was written for certifying “direct care workers for certain home care programs and residential care facilities” for then Department of Human Services, now DHHS-Office of Aging & Disability Services. When MHRT I rolled out as part of the AMHI Consent Decree around 1991, it used this same training. DHS deemed RCS outdated around 2001, and created a more targeted training for their services, Personal Support Specialist (PSS), which was introduced on October 1, 2003. Then DMHMRSAS (now Office of Behavioral Health–OBH) continued to use RCS while working on developing their own targeted manual for adult behavioral health services. The result was MHSS, introduced on July 1, 2005, as mentioned in the previous section of this newsletter.

As RCS is now more than 20 years old and outdated, OBH will cease accepting this training in place of MHSS effective October 1, 2024. For the MHRT I to be current, all training behind it must be current. RCS will no longer be viewed as current as of October 1, 2024. Those who hold the RCS certificate must either complete MHSS or meet one of the substitutions for it prior to October 1, 2024. Those substitutions include:

  • Current Full MHRT/C (one-year Pathway B or two-year Full certificate with a future expiration date)
  • Master’s degree in Social Work; Master’s degree in Counseling, Community Mental Health or other Master’s level education that reflects a counseling concentration
  • License as one of the following Master’s Level Clinicians: LMSW; LMSW-CC; LCPC-CC; LCPC; APRN, CCS (Certified Clinical Supervisor);
  • Psy.D/Ph.D. Psychologist; or MD/DO Psychiatrist

Reminder: MHRT/C Continuing Education

Full MHRT/C certificate holders are required to complete 18 hours of continuing education (CE) during the two-year period listed on their certificate, to renew their MHRT/C. A minimum of four (4) hours of the 18 hours of training must be in ethics. Additionally, a minimum of six (6) hours of the 18 hours of training must be live training: face-to-face or live interactive video conference/webinars or classes. CE must address one or more knowledge competencies.

Belated Renewals:
If continuing education documentation is submitted after the expiration date on the certificate, and it is approved, the new certificate will be effective the date the CFL received the paperwork. Certificates will not be backdated. The continuing education must have been completed within the two-year period prior to the submission date. Example: If an individual submits their documentation late on May 15, 2024, all continuing education submitted must have occurred between May 15, 2022, and May 15, 2024. Training completed prior to May 15, 2022, would not be accepted. In this example, if approved, the new certificate would be effective for the period: May 15, 2024, through May 31, 2026.

For more information, please see our Continuing Education page.

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