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AHEC Training Partnership

UNC School of Social Work faculty members, doctoral students, practicum instructors, and other partners in education lead continuing professional development programs through our School’s partnership with North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC).

The SSW/AHEC Training Partnership is a collaborative effort to meet the educational and career needs of North Carolina’s mental health professionals. This partnership has been active for more than four decades, providing continuing education and training opportunities for social work, mental health, substance use, health, and other human service personnel, along with technical assistance and opportunities for student practicum placements.

Our faculty, adjunct faculty, field instructors, and doctoral students demonstrate their commitment to meeting the educational demands of mental health and substance use professionals in our state by partnering with AHEC to provide more than 400 hours of continuing education programs to nearly 4,000 participants annually.

The School’s AHEC Liaison is also involved with various special projects as well as collaborating with other training units within the School of Social Work and across campus on a number of important mental health, substance use and developmental disabilities topics. She also serves as a practicum supervisor for social work students interested in the field of neurodiversity, autism, and intellectual/developmental disabilities and teaches a summer course on autism and neurodiversity affirming practice.  See below for information on these projects.

Info for Social Workers and Other Mental Health Professionals

AHEC training programs include half-day workshops, full-day workshops, and conference presentations on mental health, substance use, and developmental disability topics. These educational opportunities are offered throughout the state at nine AHEC locations (there’s one near you!).

Info for AHEC Regional Behavioral Health Directors

Our School maintains a full list of workshop topics that are available for AHEC locations to schedule through the SSW/AHEC Training Partnership. Information about each workshop’s trainer is also available.

Sherry Mergner, MSW, LCSW, is a clinical associate professor and serves as the School’s liaison with AHEC. Please contact her directly (information below) if you are a NC AHEC regional behavioral health director and are interested in scheduling continuing professional education programs with our SSW/AHEC Training Partnership faculty and consultants.

Info on SSW/AHEC Training Partnership – Special Projects

During FY 23-24, the NC AHEC Program Office provided funding to the School of Social Work AHEC Training Partnership to develop an introductory training module entitled Changing Attitudes: Fostering Inclusion and Belonging for Neurodivergent Students on Campus. A Neurodivergent Resource list will also be developed. This module and the resource list will be completed by June 30, 2024, and shared with various UNC offices, units, schools and programs across campus.

Changing Attitudes: Fostering Inclusion and Belonging for Neurodivergent Students on Campus – Introductory Training Module

Empowering Neurodiversity: Fostering Inclusivity and Belongingness (an overview on working with ND individuals in the workplace)

Neurodiversity Resources for UNC Faculty, Staff, Practicum Instructors, Preceptors, and Students


Sherry Mergner, SSW/AHEC Training Partnership Liaison, 919-210-0450