As an educator, Ellen Vaughan has spent her career making sure the next generation is prepared.
She is continuing that focus through two Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge projects, one focused on preparing the next generation of mental health professionals and the second focused on meeting the unmet treatment needs of young adults in Indiana.
Preparing future health workers
The need for students entering the mental health professions to be able to recognize and respond to addiction is greater than ever. However, addiction has been less emphasized in the coursework or training for those students.
Ellen Vaughan, associate professor at the IU School of Education, is focused on making sure the next generation of mental health service providers specializing in addictions are prepared.
Through her project, Vaughan has created a master’s track through the IU School of Education’s Mental Health Counseling and Counselor Education program in Bloomington as well as joined other IU campuses in an online certificate in addictions counseling. The evidence-based curriculum and practical training spans prevalence, prevention, assessment, and treatment of substance use disorders.
It is all too often, Vaughan said, that she is asked where treatment is available in Indiana. For many areas, the answer has been, there is none or it is far away.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there is a critical shortage of addictions counselors. The state of Indiana has fewer than 20 addictions counselors per 1,000 adults with a substance use disorder, leaving the state below the national average of 32.
The newly-developed courses will not only address this issue but will align with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services' mission “to ensure that Indiana citizens have access to quality mental health and addiction services.” The project also aligns with the state’s approach to addressing substance use in Indiana in teaching ethical and appropriate care, using evidence-based treatments, focusing on community engagement, taking care to address special populations and mental health disparities, and emphasizing both prevention and intervention.
Vaughan’s project will also develop specialty practicum opportunities in addictions that will be supervised by counseling faculty.
Treating the next generation
Over one-fourth of young adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2019 and eight percent had a drug use disorder in the same year.
However, despite high rates of problematic substance use, only 10.9 percent of people needing treatment for a substance use disorder get specialized treatment. Furthermore, the costs of substance use disorders to young people are high, and in the college context, can include physical harm, diminished academic performance, and other social costs.
In response, colleges and universities are growing in their commitment to specialized services for students with substance use disorders and for those in recovery. As part of the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge initiative, Ellen Vaughan, associate professor in the IU School of Education, is working to meet the unmet treatment need by testing two counseling approaches for substance use disorders among young adults. Vaughan’s team also will develop a group counseling program for those who identify as being in recovery for a substance use disorder.
Participants are being recruited from IU Bloomington and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington. All participants will receive counseling services in the Center for Human Growth, a counseling training clinic in the School of Education. Counseling will take place over the course of eight to 12 weeks and will focus in on the individual’s goals for changing their substance use patterns.
The team hopes to use the results from this project to establish ongoing services for students with substance use disorders in the Center for Human Growth, therefore increasing access to counseling in our community.