State offering prevention specialist certification

The Department of Public Health and Human Services said Oct. 26 that the Montana Prevention Certification Board is now offering an online certification program for prevention specialists and those working in related public and behavioral health capacities.

The certified prevention specialist, administered by MPCB, is now available for professionals providing services in the field of behavioral health.

“MPCB strives to advance the field of prevention as a viable and effective professional discipline to benefit all Montana communities,” Karen Sylvester, board president, said in a release. “Certification indicates that prevention specialists have demonstrated their competency through experience, supervision, education, passing an examination and agreeing to adhere to a code of ethical conduct.”

The purpose of prevention is to reduce negative health outcomes such as substance misuse and mental health problems through science-backed interventions.

Many people work in prevention without considering themselves “prevention specialists” such as teachers, faith-based leaders, coalition members or community-based law enforcement officers, according to DPHHS.

DPHHS provided $100,000 over two years in federal funds to help develop the training curriculum.

“It’s exciting that Montana now offers a certification program to those working in prevention,” DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton said in a release. “Prevention is critical, and these individuals are hard at work in communities across the state to deliver key behavioral health services. This fills another gap in the overall continuum of care, and I encourage all prevention specialists to become certified.”

There’s currently about 53 prevention specialists in Montana serving all counties, according to DPHHS.

Prevention is also broad-ranging, with the intent of alleviating many at-risk behaviors which include, but are not limited to, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, crime and delinquency, vandalism, violence, child abuse, mental health problems, family conflict, depression, anxiety and suicide, according to DPHHS.

The board will offer the CPS credential according to the standards set by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.

Once certified, professionals are required to strictly observe a code of ethical conduct and participate in annual continuing education to ensure evolving competence in the field, according to DPHHS.

More information about the Montana Prevention Specialist Certification process is here.