About the program
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The Rural Human Service (RHS) Program is a 34-credit University of Alaska academic program developed for Alaska village-based human service providers. It is intended for rural residents who are natural helpers and healers in their communities, and it is designed to help further develop skills and credentials in the helping profession. RHS offers a culturally appropriate training program designed for rural, village-based human service workers. Skills and training are provided in services such as crisis intervention, suicide prevention, community development, and counseling in mental health, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, grief, and healing.
Rural Human Services is built on traditional Alaska Native values. The program validates respective traditions to facilitate the healing of people in rural Alaskan communities. A unique aspect of RHS is that it uses Alaska Native cultures, traditions, and learning styles. Elders are a vital part of program design and class instruction. Courses blend Native and Western knowledge, values, and principles. The program enhances self-awareness and personal growth. RHS emphasizes cooperative learning and is grounded in the oral tradition. Learning techniques include observation, oral communication, hands-on experience, and skill applications for use in rural Alaska.
Rural Human Services (RHS) is a statewide effort. RHS embraces the Alaska Mental Health Board's goal to have at least one trained rural human service provider employed in each of Alaska's 171 villages. The program represents successful partnerships and collaborations in rural Alaska, with faculty from the University of Alaska, representatives from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, Alaska Native Elders, Alaska Native Health Corporations, Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), rural mental health centers, and the RHS Council who work closely together in an effort to best meet the needs of rural Alaskans.
Rural Human Services mission and goals
The Rural Human Services program promotes, coordinates and delivers high quality skill-based education in human service for students in rural Alaska. The mission and goals of the program include:
- Ensure that Rural Human Service graduates are qualified for and attain human service/behavioral health entry-level positions or promotions statewide especially in rural Alaska.
- Through the use of a systems approach, ensure that Rural Human Services graduates are well equipped to provide support and counseling in Alaskan communities.
- Meet the training needs for entry level behavioral health care workers by using best practice models of instructional delivery through the establishment of RHS learning cohorts statewide.
- Blend western behavioral health practices with traditional Alaska Native knowledge and
- Expand workforce capacity by providing academic and career paths to human service credentialing.
The program is a statewide effort that embraces the Alaska Mental Health Board's goal to have at least one trained human service provider in each of Alaska's 171 villages. UA faculty and staff, representatives from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, Alaska Native Elders, Alaska Native Health Corporations, rural mental health centers, and the RHS Program Advising Council work closely together.