HUNTINGTON -- The Cabell County Drug Court is partnering with the Marshall University Behavioral Health Center to help individuals and families struggling with drug abuse.

Individuals who participate in the drug court program are assessed by a mental health professional who is assigned to the day report center. The assessment helps the counselor identify issues in the participant’s life that may complicate or enhance success in the program, according to Kim White, assistant professor in Marshall's Department of Social Work. 

Drug Court is partnering with the Marshall University Behavioral Health Center to help individuals and families struggling with drug abuse.
Drug Court is partnering with the Marshall University Behavioral Health Center to help individuals and families struggling with drug abuse. | morguefile.com

“Based on the findings of the assessment, the counselor will refer to the Behavioral Health Center for specific services,” White said.  “Our center is newly established in response to the increasing demand for family-centered, community-based, integrated services and is staffed by graduate-level social work students, many with extensive experience providing adolescent and youth services.”  

Students are supervised by two independently licensed social work faculty members who are stationed in the clinic during operating hours from Monday through Friday and every other Saturday.  

White said services include individual, family and group therapy, psycho-education, referrals and case management to assist clients with navigating their involvement in systems such as legal, child welfare, health care and the public schools. 

“The strength of our program is that we have the flexibility to tailor services based on the unique needs of the individual and family,” White said. “We provide individualized and group parenting support and skill-building--with attention given to parenting in recovery. 

White said the partnership with the drug court is mutually beneficial to the university and the community.  

“Historically, the university’s mission has been to serve the greater community by applying knowledge gained through scholarship to solve social problems and meet needs,” White said. “At the university we look for opportunities for our students to apply what they are learning in the classroom through exposure to real world problems, and we also share what we learn through work in the community with our students to better inform their future practice.“

The partnership with the drug court not only involves the Department of Social Work, but also the Department of Psychology, Marshall Health, and the Campus Christian Center, with the potential to incorporate more departments in the College of Health Professions and others across campus, White said.

“Right now our focus is solely on Cabell County, but an interdepartmental team at Marshall University is pursuing a grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that, if awarded, would significantly increase our capacity to assist a wider population, including juveniles and to extend into Wayne County,” White said.  

White added that the state relies on segregated residential treatment or juvenile detention as a means of providing care because there is lack of a robust network of community-based and in home services for youth.

“Youth who need mental and behavioral health services are at higher risk of separation from their families and being placed in institutions, so we're hoping if we get that grant to work with other universities and community partners to fill this critical gap,” White said. 

For clients, White hopes to see more opportunities for support and more recovery options in the community with considerable attention given to families.  

“Drug court participants understand the cycle of addiction and they do not want their children caught up in that cycle,” White said.  “They want their children to live happy, healthy lives and meet their potential.  For us at Marshall, this partnership represents a learning opportunity for our students and our faculty.  The drug epidemic has affected so many people in West Virginia and has made experts of us all.  We just want to keep learning and give back.”

The Behavioral Health Center is on Marshall's main campus in the basement of Gullickson Hall, Room G01.

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