New Program to Train Recovery Support Specialists

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Sharing personal stories and helping others can be a rewarding part of the recovery process for many people, and the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network has created a way to make that happen.

The Recovery Leadership Academy — an 80-hour certificate program for people in recovery from mental health and/or addiction to drugs or alcohol – is launching this fall. After completing the program, people will become recovery support specialists qualified to work in behavioral health systems anywhere in Connecticut. This includes in Hartford HealthCare emergency departments at Backus, Windham, Charlotte Hungerford and Hartford hospitals and The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center.

“We need to approach recovery from as many angles as possible, and when people are in the clutches of addiction, sometimes the only voices that can reach them are those of experience,” said Karen Kangas, director of recovery and family affairs for Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network who is, herself, in recovery.

The program – which is open to the family members of those in recovery, who have their own personal recovery history – mirrors a Recovery University program Kangas developed when she worked as executive director of Advocacy Unlimited. The goal, she said, is to teach people in recovery to become peer support specialists who can then guide others to recovery based on their shared experience and understanding of the challenges recovery poses.

BHN President Pat Rehmer calls Kangas “the conscience of our leadership group,” noting that her tenacity and her focus on the needs of the clients is tireless.

“People in recovery see things through a different lens. Their successful recovery helps them bring a significant amount of hope to people with substance use and mental health disorders,” Rehmer said. “Clients, through them, can see that it is possible for them to employed and have productive lives in recovery.”

Tuition for Recovery Leadership Academy is $300, scholarships and payment plans are available. For more information, visit www.hhcbehavioralhealth.org/recoveryacademy.


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