BY | July 24, 2023

LYNN — Several North Shore healthcare providers have teamed up with North Shore Community College to offer free mental-healthcare training.

The Behavioral Health Education Program is a joint effort between Mass General Brigham and Beth Israel Lahey Health to train participants for employment as mental-health counselors or specialists at one of four sites — BayRidge Hospital, Addison Gilbert Hospital, Beverly Hospital, and Salem Hospital — as they complete courses for college credit at NSCC.

Northeast Healthcare Hub Training Manager Marcia Griesdorf, who is one of the program’s leaders, said the program aims to be employment-focused, with the addition of access to free educational opportunities.

“People have the opportunity to be working while they get their education,” Griesdorf said. “We think this is a great opportunity.”

Griesdorf said no experience beyond a high-school diploma or GED is needed to take advantage of the program, which after a few introductory training courses places participants at a site where they work 40 hours a week with a starting pay of around $20 an hour or more.

The ultimate goal of the program is to launch participants into opportunities to continue their education or work at one of the four sites after completing six free three-credit courses, which are taken remotely once a week.

“We’re hoping that this will lead to someone working at a different level in the behavioral-health setting in the future,” Griesdorf said. “The demands and the needs are critical right now. We all see it and read it every day.”

Griesdorf said feedback from the first cohort of 20 participants for the program, as well as the educators at NSCC, has been positive. A second group of 20 is expected to enter the program in early 2024.

Each cohort is expected to contain 10 people already working at one of the institutions and 10 people without prior experience there.

Sarris said the program is not only an exciting opportunity to further careers, but also a way to fill the increasing need for workers in the behavioral-healthcare field in the wake of COVID-19.

“There are lots of openings… COVID challenged it to no end,” Sarris said. “They are rebuilding… so there are lots of opportunities in healthcare and behavioral healthcare.”

Sarris noted the program being free enables participants to affordably continue their education toward an advanced degree in the mental-health field.

“It’s such an important thing for us to have right now,” Sarris said. “We provide a program that provides free training… leading to an associate’s degree in behavioral health.”

Interested Candidates should connect with   978.825.7200

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