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Heartland to add Peer Recovery Support certification

November 18, 2020

Heartland Community College is adding a certification program with an eye on the area’s growing need for mental health support professionals. 

The District 540 Board of Trustees has approved the adoption of a 7 credit-hour Peer Recovery Support Specialist microcertificate program. The new certificate programs will allow students to advance into the workplace directly from Heartland. 

The program is being developed in collaboration with Chestnut Health Systems in response to a projected need for certification programs in substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health. Peer recovery programs are becoming more widely adopted in the U.S., following the recommendations of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, published in July 2003. Job growth is promising as Illinois is one of several states working to establish guidelines for education and certification.

“This Peer Recovery Support Specialist program of study is another example of how Heartland is looking to meet the workforce needs of our community with short-term certification programs,” said Dr. Rick Pearce, Heartland Community College Provost and VP of Academic Affairs. “This will be the first certified peer recovery support program offered at a college or university in Illinois. Students who earn this certification will have the skills to become a vital part of the area’s mental health support system.”

Through a combination of experience and professional training, students will learn how to facilitate recovery, build resilience of persons in recovery, and construct criteria to guide ethical decision-making. Upon completion, students will demonstrate competency in mentoring and education, professional responsibility, advocacy domain and recovery/wellness skills.  

The first cohort of the program will focus on substance abuse recovery. Subsequent cohorts will be trained in substance abuse, behavioral health, and mental health support. 

The District 540 Board of Trustees approved the adoption of the program at their November 17, 2020 meeting.

The next step in the process of program development is Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) approval. Heartland is targeting the Fall 2021 semester for the first cohort of students in the program.


Written by: Steve Fast