Volume XVIII | Issue 2 | Spring 2018
Learn more at www.oraimh.org/

Credentialing system for rural professionals

Oregon recently joined 25 other states in offering an infant mental health endorsement for professionals. The certification is funded in part by Oregon Health Authority’s Maternal and Child Health section and The Ford Family Foundation and is offered through the Oregon Infant Mental Health Association. The Foundation funds the Rural Oregon Infant Mental Health Endorsement Initiative to ensure that rural professionals have an opportunity to access the credential. 

Endorsement is a credentialing system that recognizes the knowledge and ability of professionals who work with infants and young children. This process uses a nationally recognized set of standards and competencies that define best practice and guide professional development across disciplines.

Four levels

 Endorsement at four different levels is granted to early childhood professionals from all disciplines demonstrating relevant education, training and work experience, and who have received reflective supervision, a relationship-based guidance strategy. 

“When I learned that Infant Mental Health Endorsement model was being adopted by Oregon, I also learned that a few states that had been implementing the model for several years had zero rural endorsees,” says Christy Cox, the Foundation’s senior program officer for early childhood development. “Given the Foundation’s commitment to rural communities, we asked to partner with ORIMHA to make sure that didn’t happen here.”

Now in its third year, the initiative will enable ORIMHA to provide rural endorsement specialists to serve all Oregon counties, as well as provide for reflective supervision groups in rural counties.

“The endorsement begins Oregon’s process of recognizing in a concrete way how highly specialized the workers are in this field,” says Dr. Sherri Alderman, ORIMHA’s president.  

Alderman says it also fosters collaboration. “In my work, I connect with other pediatricians, social workers, home visiting, all throughout the system of care. This endorsement validates my place in that world and encourages a common approach for connecting with fellow professionals regardless of discipline.” 

In Oregon, 39 professionals in 13 counties have received the credential, with 141 more in the process. For more information, visit the ORIMHA website.   

More Resources

May is Mental Health Month: Mental Health America and its affiliates have led this annual observance since 1949. The 2018 theme is Whole Body Mental Health. MHA’s May is Mental Health Month Toolkit, posted on its website, (www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may) includes information on increasing understanding of how the body’s various systems impact mental health based on recent research. From food to fitness to gut flora, the toolkit dives into the elements that make up personal wellness.

Oregon Health Authority: The mission of OHA is to help people and communities achieve optimum physical, mental and social well-being through partnerships, prevention and access to quality, affordable health care. Its website is a portal to a wealth of information, including information on its mental health crisis lines (www.oregon.gov/oha) and links to different agencies that provide mental health services to children.  

National Alliance on Mental Illness: The Oregon chapter of NAMI is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness, as well as their families and loved ones. Its website (https://namior.org/) provides links to educational programs, peer support groups and specialized newsletters. The group also operates a helpline at (800) 343-6264.   

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