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Milligan announces addictions counseling concentration with support from Ballad Health and the BlueCross Health Foundation

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (May 2, 2019) — Milligan College announced the expansion of its Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) program to include a concentration in addictions counseling beginning fall 2019, thanks to support from Ballad Health and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.

“We are grateful to Ballad Health and the BlueCross Health Foundation for providing valuable advice and encouragement, as well as financial resources, to help Milligan equip counselors to serve a critical need,” said Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer. “Milligan has long been at the forefront of preparing Christian leaders to confront the challenges of their time. Today, addiction poses a considerable challenge to society, one that has profoundly affected families and employers both regionally and nationally.”

According to data from the National Institutes of Health, Tennessee’s opioid death rate is 50 percent higher than the national average, and in 2016, Tennesseans were prescribed opioids at a rate that was 68 percent higher than the national average.

“Trained counselors are needed to assist individuals suffering from addiction and related issues throughout the recovery process,” said Greer. “The academic elements of our counseling program, woven with Milligan’s philosophy of integrating faith and learning, will yield caring, compassionate and respectful counselors who are prepared to work in both outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities, as well as in counseling practices.”

Milligan’s counseling program is a two-year, 60 credit hour program offering concentrations in clinical mental health and school counseling. The addition of addictions counseling is projected to double the number of students in the program.

With limited graduate-level options available in the region, the demand for licensed addictions counselors has increased exponentially. Graduates of the new concentration will be qualified for licensure as addictions counselors. Also, current licensed clinical mental health counselors will have an option to add on the addictions subspecialty in as few as two semesters.

Milligan and Ballad Health have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership over the years. In 2016, before merging with Wellmont Health System to become Ballad Health, Mountain States Health Alliance supported the college’s launch of the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program, in addition to the creation of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 1992 and the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in 1998.

Partnering with Milligan to launch a concentration in addictions counseling is a natural fit for Ballad Health’s ongoing efforts to combat the region’s growing opioid crisis.

“The problem of substance use disorder in our region is complex, involving medical, social and behavioral aspects, so a multi-pronged approach is necessary in order to make the greatest impact,” said Trish Baise, Ballad Health’s vice president of behavioral health services. “Following Ballad Health’s work with ETSU to help create an addiction fellowship program at the Quillen College of Medicine, this new addiction counseling program at Milligan will help to round out the spectrum of intervention resources in the region. We believe it’s important to strengthen the pipeline of professionals for both the medical treatment and counseling aspects of addiction.”

As a mission-driven health plan serving millions of Tennesseans, BlueCross has been working diligently for years to reduce the risk and impact of prescription drug abuse by implementing clinical policy changes and supporting community programs through its foundation.

“We know many of our neighbors in East Tennessee are fighting to recover from substance use disorder, and we’re here to support them,” said Roy Vaughn, executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. “We’re honored to join Milligan and Ballad Health to help train counselors who can meet the needs of this community.”

For more information on Milligan’s counseling program, visit www.milligan.edu/msc.

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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