News Article Details

RCC hosts conference focusing on suicide, opioid epidemic, mental health

Courier-Tribune - 1/23/2019

Jan. 23--ASHEBORO -- The nationwide opioid epidemic hit home recently as Randolph County Public Health Director Susan Hayes updated the Asheboro City Council on the county's opioid crisis. According to data, Randolph County has one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses per 100,000 residents.

Randolph Community College is doing its part to combat the crisis. At the end of the fall semester, RCC hosted the North Carolina Organization for Human Services (NCOHS) conference, "Transformations," focusing on suicide, the opioid epidemic, and mental health.

About 140 people from as far away as Tennessee attended the conference in RCC's JB and Claire Davis Corporate Training Center, which included six breakout sessions with different focuses -- suicide prevention, peer support certification, the opioid epidemic, the state of mental health, substance abuse, intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Carolina, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), and trauma-focused therapy with children.

RCC President Dr. Robert Shackleford opened the conference, welcoming the attendees to RCC and Asheboro and sharing why he is so passionate about RCC's Human Services program.

"Randolph Community College has a very strong commitment to mental health, as evidenced by both the establishment of our Human Services curriculum program for students wanting to go into mental health careers and by the formation of a team of professionals on campus who serve as a Mental Health Rapid Response Team to assist with mental health crises on campus," Shackleford said later. "Thus, I was extremely happy that Human Services Department Head Scott Smith was able to arrange for RCC to host the November meeting of the NC Organization for Human Services. Further, I was very pleased that Paul Sanders, one of the first graduates from our Human Services program, was one of the keynote speakers, with a personal story that inspires everyone who hears it."

Sanders, who graduated with honors from RCC in May 2017 with an associate degree in both Human Services Technology and Substance Abuse, spoke at the conference in the morning. The certified Peer Support Specialist was the first part-time, nonclinical employee in Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS) in Greensboro to be voted employee of the month. His talk, entitled "From the Penthouse to the Prison House and into Recovery," touched on his journey from being a gifted baseball player at Western Carolina University, to his crack addiction, to being 12 years clean.

Tony Peek gave his talk "From Star Athlete to Prison to Homelessness to College to Social Worker" at lunch, starting with his days as a youth in a single-parent home in Charlotte. A Stanly Community College graduate who earned his Bachelor of Social Work degree from UNC Charlotte, Peek is a certified Peer Support Specialist with certifications from the Addiction Recovery Care Associate, North Carolina HIV Counseling, Testing & Referral Training, and Lifework! Certification.

Other presenters included Stanly Community College Human Services Program Head and NCOHS Executive Board President Kara Finch, certified peer support specialist and facilitator and WRAP facilitator Ronald Clark, RCC adjunct instructor and Fellowship Hall counselor Melanie Lawson, Sandhills Center CEO Victoria Whitt, Associate Center Director for Daymark Recovery Services Karissa Brone and Daymark Recovery Services therapist Kristen Morrone.

Various agencies and colleges set up vendor tables, including Juvenile Day Reporting Center, Monroe Consulting, NC Works, Randolph County Veteran Service Office, Ready4Change, FaithHealth Navigator, Daymark, Sandhills Center, Queens University, East Tennessee State University, Gardner-Webb University, and Lees-McRae College.

RCC offers a Substance Abuse Certificate that includes four courses, including "Crisis Intervention" and "Substance Abuse Overview." Both courses are available online, starting March 11 and running through May 6. For information, contact Smith at 336-633-0202 or via email at sasmith@randolph.edu.

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(c)2019 The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C.

Visit The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C. at www.courier-tribune.com

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