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New Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program to commence spring 2016

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One in 4 U.S. citizens will suffer from mental health illness each year, and 59 percent of those people will be misdiagnosed and mistreated, according to Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences. Florida places 49 out of the 50 states when it comes to funding mental health services, and Northeast Florida is one of the second lowest funded regions in the state.

This is why Jacksonville University’s Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences has started two programs specializing in not just mental health care, but also mental health wellness. These two programs are the Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program, which will start in the spring term, and the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, which began this fall.

“It went very  smoothly through the JU process, which I’m just estatic about,” said Sharon T. Wilburn, Ph.D., program director of the Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. “We’re hoping to admit at minimum 12. I’m hoping to admit 18. We’re as limited as we allow ourselves to be, and this degree is allowing me to not be limited.”

Wilburn is honored to serve the Jacksonville community in this way.

“This is my city. I grew up here. I believe if we don’t impact this community, how can we expect anybody else to?”

“I chuckled when my son went to Stanford, and when he decided to come back after he finished his doctorate I said ‘Why are you coming back to the Jacksonville area? Your profession would really keep you better in California. And he looked at me and he said ‘Mother, you don’t get it. I’m coming home.’ I think Jaksonville does that to you. It becomes part of you and you become part of it.”

Specifics about the programs, such as the requirements for admissions, the length of the programs and the courses need to graduate were presented by the College at an Open House Wednesday, October 6. Presenters also spoke about the degrees and certificates expected on completion of graduation and the types of employment each program could go into after graduation.

After questions were asked and answered a tour of one of the labs were given. The high-fidelity lab contained mannequins that are able to stimulate breathing, blood pressure and vital signs through electronic stimulation.

There is a nurse’s station, where two computer science majors are creating an EMR, and rooms for pediatrics, OBGYN, and regular patients. The lab includes a computer lab for debriefing, a doctor/nurse practitioner’s office and a control panel that does not interfere with students practicing on the mannequins. Everything is recorded in both labs that run 24 hours a day.

One of the programs in attendance was the Youth Crisis Center who provides counseling services for youth and families. They have  four programs with ages ranging from three to seven and a young adult program of ages ranging from 18 to 21. The Youth Crisis Center formed an agreement with JU to provide internships in mental health counseling and nursing for JU students.

The mental health faculty include Lynnette Kennison, Ph.D., Pam Rillstone, Ph.D., Larry D. Wagoner, Ph.D., and Wilburn. They hope to be a part of a movement that will help the community take steps toward wellness, Wilburn said.

“We are committed to give back.”

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New Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program to commence spring 2016