Herkimer, NY – Human Services students at Herkimer College have successfully completed their CarePath Coach Certification through the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS) as of April 28, 2022.

The newly certified coaches are Jordan Brelinsky, Little Falls, NY; Olivia Gasparinatos, Herkimer, NY; Hannah Napier, Dolgeville, NY; Jasmine Rivera, Utica, NY; Kayla Suppa, Oneida, NY; and Haley Thomas, Ilion, NY.

Herkimer College is the only SUNY school partnering with MHANYS to include the CarePath curriculum for all students graduating with a degree in Human Services. Assistant Professor Grace Ashline, who also serves as coordinator of the Human Services program said, “This unprecedented partnership between Herkimer College and MHANYS is raising awareness across New York State agencies that seek to support mental health for individuals, families, and their communities. This is on the heels of state funding by the Office of Mental Health earlier this year pledging to support CarePath and its inclusion in health care facilities, schools, and other agencies targeting wellness for individuals, families, and their communities.”

MHANYS has also recently partnered with the Brave of Heart Fund to support an initiative providing CarePath training to front-line workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Brave of Heart Fund was established by the Foundations of New York Life and Cigna. This partnership will provide agencies in Herkimer, Oneida, and Otsego counties with an opportunity to bring CarePath to their hospital settings, schools, and non-profit organizations.

Herkimer College’s Human Services students will be trained and ready to facilitate the program.

The MHANYS CarePath Program supports the wellness of individuals in need, alongside their family members or chosen supporters, through offering the assistance of a Certified CarePath Coach. Since its launch in 2019, the program continues to gain acknowledgment through the New York State Office of Mental Health and has garnered statewide and national attention for its relational approach to mental health and recovery.

Students graduating with their degree in Human Services and a certification in CarePath become part of a state initiative, employment opportunities, and community partnership. The program provides students with 20 renewable credit hours as peer support specialists, peer family advocates, youth peer advocates, and Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASAC). Career opportunities are available at hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and human service agencies both in the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

Ashline explained that students who obtain this certification are poised to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year school with a greater advantage than those who did not receive CarePath training. Her students learn the trauma-informed approach and leave the program as certified mandated reporters. These credentials make them highly employable in the field.

“I’m so proud of them,” Ashline shared. They don’t realize it now, they may in a few months, but they are on the forefront of something.”

In addition to a career advantage, Ashline’s students discovered other aspects about the importance of mental health awareness and their own self-care.

“I learned it’s okay when our wellness is not okay, but it’s important to talk about it and seek help,” Gasparinatos said.

“CarePath is never delivered in isolation of others, “It’s a whole-person, centered approach that makes up wellness,” Brelinsky explained.

Rivera added, “Wellness is providing the tools and allowing people to help themselves. CarePath brings back hope.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For more information about the innovative CarePath program at Herkimer College, visit www.herkimer.edu/humanservices.