Turner and Lucas
Graduates Jacqueline Turner and Cristine Lucas

Trained mental health technicians are in demand in Hawaiʻi, and a new certificate that can be completed at Windward Community College in just one semester is aimed to grow that workforce. Recently, Windward CC and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) recognized two graduates who earned a mental health technician certificate of competence. Jacqueline Turner and Cristine Lucas, both of whom work at the Hawaiʻi State Hospital, completed their certificates in spring 2022.

“I have been working in mental health for 25 years, and this certificate is my greatest achievement. I learned so much more!” said Turner.

The mental health technician certificate of competence at Windward CC provides training for those entering the field of mental health services or as an enhancement for those currently working within the mental health or behavioral health field. The nine-credit program prepares students to work as assistants to mental health professionals in institutional settings, such as the Hawaiʻi State Hospital.

This fall, Windward CC is offering the mental health technician certificate of competence in a series of three online courses that can be completed in one semester—with tuition free of charge. Interested students can learn more online.

Haʻaheo Pagan, career and transfer counselor, can assist with the application process and class registration. He can be contacted at [email protected] or (808) 235-7460.

“I’m old school, and Windward CC gives you all the assistance that you need with technology. I am so grateful for that!” said Turner.

Building an educational pathway

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Windward CC Chancellor Ardis Eschenberg and Hawaiʻi State Hospital Administrator Run Heidelberg

“When Senator (Jarret) Keohokalole brought Dr. (Run) Heidelberg and myself together to discuss how we might build an educational pathway for the Hawaiʻi State Hospital, it was an opportunity to support our institutions, our employees, and care for mental illness in Hawaiʻi,” said Windward CC Chancellor Ardis Eschenberg. “These first graduates are our hope for increased quality of care and expanded career opportunities in mental health for community members. I look forward to seeing this program and its impact grow.”

Mental health technicians are in demand at the Hawaiʻi State Hospital, Hina Mauka, elder care homes and through referrals from Windward Health Center, Hawaiʻi Department of Education, health care organizations and DOH.

“This is great news for the Windward side…to have Windward CC and the Hawaiʻi State Hospital collaborate on this partnership just makes sense. Our students gain access to career pathways here where they live, and our community gains much needed expertise in mental health,” said Keohokalole.

Heidelberg, the Hawaiʻi State Hospital administrator, added, “We want to be the leader in mental health in Hawaiʻi.”

—By Bonnie J. Beatson

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Department of Health, Windward CC and community leaders celebrate the first mental health technician certificate of completion.
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