The Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care Technical Assistance Center (UBHC-TAC) provides the Basic Screener Certification Training Series and the Mental Health Screener Recertification Training Series. The Basic Certification Series is designed to serve New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) funded designated screening centers with staff who wish to obtain their initial mental health screener certification. The Mental Health Screener Recertification Training Series offers the trainings necessary for the recertification of previously certified mental health screeners. Certified screeners need to complete 15 approved credits every two years in order to obtain their recertification. Six of those 15 credits must be from a state approved source which includes the trainings offered by the UBHC-TAC. Both the Basic and the Recertification series occur twice annually, once in the spring and once in the fall. The trainings are offered in a variety of locations in the northern, central, and southern regions of the state.
Basic Screener Certification Training Series
Due to issues related to COVID-19, our Basic Screener trainings are now being offered live, online. Schedules for these courses are sent to each of the 23 New Jersey Designated Screening Centers as well as New Jersey's Affiliated Emergency Services. The trainings offered in this series include:
- Overview of the Screening Law & Process
- Clinical Assessment & Documentation
- Assessment of Drugs & Alcohol Abuse
- Assessment of Children
- Suicide Assessment
- Providing a Safe & Secure Environment (Causes of Aggression)
- Assessment of Special Populations (Deaf/Hard of Hearing & Older Adults)
- Mobile Outreach & Working with the Police
Screener Recertification Training Series
We often receive questions about the specifics of how a screener may obtain their recertification. According to New Jersey Regulations [N.J.A.C. § 10:31-3.3 (e)], "Biennial recertification shall be granted after a screener has submitted evidence of completion of 15 continuing education hours approved by the Division on a case-by-case basis, with regard to the relevance of the subject matter to emergency or screening services. These may include courses, conferences or in-service training. At a minimum, six of those 15 hours shall be provided by the Division-sponsored screener training course." Courses offered by the Technical Assistance Center, along with those that are a part of New Jersey's Disaster Response Crisis Counselor courses, are considered "Division-sponsored" and so are acceptable for recertification credits. The weeklong Crisis Intervention Team training, if completed in New Jersey, would also qualify.
Qualifying to become a Mental Health Screener
We frequently receive questions about how someone may become a New Jersey Certified Mental Health Screener. New Jersey regulations (N.J.A.C 10:31) list the qualifications for becoming a screener which we have copied below. The process can at times seem confusing because the person who is seeking to become certified does not apply directly to attend the Basic Certification Training Series.
It is a New Jersey Designated Screening Center that submits the application on their behalf. This means that the person already needs to be working at a Designated Screening Center in order to have an application submitted for them. Once our department receives a complete application, we review the documents to determine whether or not the applicant meets the State’s criteria for eligibility (below). If the individual does qualify, the UBHC-TAC assigns that person a temporary certification number which is valid for one year.
During the period of their temporary certification, the applicant would then register for the Basic Screener Certification Training Series and, once completed, take the exam. The trainings are free of charge, thanks to a Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services grant, and typically occur in the spring and fall of each year. There are other contingencies but these are the basics.
The standards listed below which outline the criteria for qualifying for temporary mental health screener certification are taken directly from N.J.A.C. 10:31 - Screening and Screening Outreach Standards, revised as of January 2018.
Individuals who apply for status as a certified screener after January of 2018 shall possess at least one of the following educational credentials, which shall serve as prerequisites to admission to the Division's screener certification course and to subsequent status as a temporary or fully certified screener:
A master's degree in a mental-health-related field from an accredited institution, plus one year of postmaster's, full-time equivalent, professional experience in a psychiatric setting;
A bachelor's degree in a mental-health-related field from an accredited institution, plus three years post-bachelor's, full-time equivalent, professional experience in the mental health field, one of which is in a crisis setting;
- A bachelor's degree in a mental-health-related field from an accredited institution, plus two years post-bachelor's, full-time equivalent, professional experience in the mental health field, one of which is in a crisis setting and currently enrolled in a master's program; or
- A licensed registered nurse with three years full-time equivalent, post-RN, professional experience in the mental health field, one of which is in a crisis setting.
For additional information, please feel free to contact us at (732) 235-9290 or at email@example.com.
We gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship and support of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services for this project.