Campus Mental Health Counselors Receive Military Sensitivity Certification

​Student veterans on the campus of The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) will have a new resource to help them navigate issues they may be facing. Both mental health counselors on campus, David Wirt and Stephayne Harris, are now certified by Ohio: Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP).

SBHP is a training, dissemination and referral system aimed at expanding access to trained behavioral health providers for service members, veterans and their families. SBHP works to do two things: first, to train civilian behavioral health providers in military-specific content and, second, to create a registry through which you can then locate these trained providers. The training content was created by the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) which is a Department of Defense Center of Excellence.

“This is wonderful for our student veterans,” said COTC Veterans Affairs Coordinator Connie Zang. “Having both counselors on campus with this advanced training will let student veterans know there is someone who understands what they are experiencing and can help them navigate how to improve their situation.”

Wirt is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervisor Endorsement licensed through the State of Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. Wirt earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from The Ohio State University in 1990 and his master's degree in education/counseling from the University of Dayton in 1996. He has worked both in social work and counseling as a therapist since 1995 and uses an eclectic approach to counseling to help identify individual needs and create helpful approaches to change.

“The decision was made to pursue this SBHP certification after beginning training with the Center for Deployment Psychology on military culture that was sponsored by Counseling and Consultation Services at The Ohio State University in Columbus. We realized as a staff that this training could benefit our military and general student populations by strengthening our clinical knowledge base and military cultural sensitivity,” said Wirt. “Stephayne​​ Harris and I are now two of only three clinicians in Licking County who have received this certification to date. This means our clinicians in Student Life Counseling Services are on the cutting edge of providing excellent, evidence-based mental healthcare practices to both our military-affiliated students and our general population as well.”

Harris is a Licensed Independent Social Worker licensed through the State of Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Board. Harris received her master’s degree in social work from The Ohio State University in 1991. Independently licensed since 1993, Harris has offered outpatient counseling in a variety of settings to people in central Ohio.

“I have watched relatives, friends, and sons and daughters of friends experience the toll of military service and deployment since Desert Storm in 1991. These individuals and their families’ experiences are unique and with that come some unique stresses,” said Harris. “I have been aware of the increasing need for mental health providers trained to work with the military, and I have seen the military increase their efforts to provide specialized mental health options to our service members. I have been encouraged by this progress. David and I were both honored to have this opportunity to participate in this training in order to better serve our military-affiliated students.”

Counseling services are free and available to Ohio State Newark and COTC students enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis. To schedule an appointment, contact Counseling Services at 740-364-9578. 

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.