logoTinyContact: Danielle Lamson
Communications Manager
610 Campus Drive
Abingdon, VA 24210

September 18, 2012

ABINGDON, VA (September 18, 2012) – The partnership between Highlands Community Services’ Stepping Stones Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center and Virginia Highlands Community College’s (VHCC) Nursing Program was recently set in motion.  This partnership is a way for students on their path to become registered nurses, to gain experience and learn more about individuals with serious mental illnesses. Student rotations will allow the students from VHCC to participate in, as well as lead, activities such as health fairs and nutrition/health groups. During these student rotations, students obtain hands-on knowledge of mental health and illness, a critical component of nursing education.

“Last year, consumers from our Stepping Stones program gave speeches to a nursing class about the impact of the recovery program on their lives and specific ways they were working on their recovery. Kathy Mitchell, Dean of the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program (VATNP), remembered those speeches,” explains Sarah Blevins, Unit Manager at SteppingStonesRecoveryCenter. “Kathy called Highlands Community Services seeking ways to get nursing students involved in our psychosocial rehabilitation program, which led to the development of our partnership.”

It has proved to be a win-win situation; nursing students gain experience working with consumers with serious mental illnesses in a clubhouse setting while consumers gain group activities and fresh knowledge about nutrition, health, wellness, and community service.

Kathy Mitchell, Dean of Nursing for VATNP, states, “The Stepping Stones clubhouse program is certainly among the best in the state. Students participating in this wonderful opportunity focus on the role of the nurse in mental health. Rather than consistently and exclusively seeing individuals when they are symptomatic in a hospital setting, nursing students may now see and work directly with individuals who are working on their recovery in the clubhouse setting at Stepping Stones. Because Stepping Stones is a program that provides the support consumers need to live as independently as possible, our students are given knowledge and experience to help the community at large.”

Through this strategic partnership, both consumers and students are given knowledge and experience that will allow all to better function in, as well as better serve, our community.

Stepping Stones is Highlands Community Services’ clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation.  Stepping Stones provides adult group education to individuals who need help managing the symptoms of serious mental illness.  Services include pre-vocational units that teach teamwork, along with specialized educational groups focusing on health and wellness, exercise, nutrition, independent living skills, and leisure skills. Community integration trips are also an important part of the education process.  A team of trained staff members work side by side with individuals to help them achieve treatment goals and to increase quality of life.

Highlands Community Services is a multi-faceted Community Service Board providing Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Intellectual Disability services to the residents of Bristol and Washington County, VA.  To learn more about our services, call 276.525.1550 or log onto www.highlandscsb.org for general HCS information.

The Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program (VATNP) is a consortium of three community colleges, VirginiaHighlandsCommunity College, SouthwestVirginiaCommunity College and MountainEmpireCommunity College. The VATNP is a 69 semester credit course of study leading to an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing. Associate degree nursing programs are designed to prepare selected students to take the National Council Licensure Exam – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) and to perform direct patient care primarily in acute care settings and under supervision of the more experienced Registered Nurse. For more information call Kathy J. Mitchell – Dean, Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program, at 276.739.2400.


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