California State University, Northridge Certificate in LGBTQ+ Health

The Integrated Mental Health and Addictions Treatment Training Certificate (IMHATT)

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, established the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute (CPI) in November 2007, to promote the widespread use of evidence-based practices throughout New York State (Covell NH, Margolies PJ, Myers RW, Ruderman D, Fazio ML, McNabb LM, Gurran S, Thorning H, Watkins L, Dixon LB. State Mental Health Policy: Scaling Up Evidence-Based Behavioral Health Care Practices in New York State. Psychiatric Services. 2014;65:713-15). One of CPI’s initiatives, Focus on Integrated Treatment (FIT), provides training in treating and implementing evidence-based treatment for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. As part of that training, CPI collaborated with key stakeholders and content experts to create 39 award-winning online modules covering screening and assessment of co-occurring disorders, treatment planning, stage-based treatment and treatment groups, motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, skills training, recovery, community supports, medications to treat co-occurring disorders, integrating medical treatment, tobacco dependence treatment, special considerations when treating adolescents, supervision skills, leadership skills, and tracking fidelity and outcomes. These online modules are made available for free to staff in not-for-profit behavioral healthcare licensed programs in New York State, and OMH encourages agency leadership to have program staff make use of the available training.

Beginning in August 2012, OMH and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services collaborated with CPI to offer the Integrated Mental Health and Addictions Treatment Training (IMHATT) certificate, signed by Commissioners from both agencies. This certificate was initially awarded to people who completed the 26 core skills modules for practitioners. When the tobacco dependence treatment modules became available in January 2013, they were added to the certificate requirements so that the IMHATT now requires completion of 29 modules. People who complete an IMHATT are eligible to receive 24.25 hours of Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), and Social Work continuing education. Some modules are individually eligible for continuing medical education (CME).

As previously reported, in the four months before the certificate was offered, total module completions averaged 1,682 per month; in the four months after introduction of the certificate, completion rates soared to an average of over 6,000 per month (Covell NH, Margolies PJ, Myers RW, Sederer L, Ruderman D, Van Bramer J, Fazio ML, McNabb LM, Thorning H, Watkins L, Hinds M. Using Incentives for Training Participation. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2016, 39, 81-83). Participation in the IMHATT certificate program has remained steady through time (see Figure below).

Reports from the field suggest that the IMHATT has become a useful metric for behavioral healthcare programs and for OMH licensing. For example, some agencies have begun to include completion of this certificate as part of performance reviews for staff, with some even offering merit increases based upon this completion. Other agencies are including the IMHATT in the onboarding of new hires.

Further, OMH has included this certificate in their revised guidance documents and consideration of exemplary practice during licensing reviews. Following inquiries from consumers and other interested entities (e.g., managed care organizations) as to which providers offer integrated treatment, CPI began posting on its website a list, updated monthly, of the total number of IMHATT earned in OMH-licensed programs where at least one person has completed an IMHATT (http://practiceinnovations.org/Initiatives/FIT-Focus-on-Integrated-Treatment). While completion of the IMHATT does not guarantee skilled practice, it does provide evidence that someone has completed the necessary training.

If you are an OMH-licensed or OASAS-certified not-for-profit behavioral healthcare program operating in NYS, you can complete an application to join CPI’s learning management system where you can access the IMHATT and other free training resources and tools (go to the following link to access that application: https://cumc.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7UiDOZnSqJw7hyJ).

For questions related to this article, please contact Nancy Covell at nancy.covell@nyspi.columbia.edu.

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