TDMHSAS Collegiate Recovery Initiative Expands with New Campus Certification

Initiative has already trained more than 1,500 people on 27 campuses statewide
Monday, April 10, 2023 | 10:04am

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is proud to expand its Collegiate Recovery Initiative with a new certification.  The Tennessee Certified Collegiate Recovery Campus designation shows a college or university’s commitment to creating a student-centered culture that puts mental health and wellbeing at the heart of student success.  The announcement comes as the department celebrates National Collegiate Recovery Week, April 10-15.

The TDMHSAS Collegiate Recovery Initiative grew out of the Lifeline Peer Project and is led by a former Lifeliner, Nathan Payne.  In the last two years, Payne has traveled the state training more than 1,500 recovery allies at 27 campuses.  Institutions participating in the Collegiate Recovery Initiative range from public universities to private and faith-based universities to community and technical colleges.  The goal of the initiative is to start conversations on campus that create opportunities for students in recovery or students who are struggling to feel heard and validated in their journeys as well as connecting them to resources and supports if needed.

The new certification process asks campuses to commit to the best practice model as it is laid out by the Tennessee Collegiate Recovery Initiative including:

  • Understanding the definition of recovery and the role that college may play in an individual’s long term recovery journey
  • Building awareness around recovery and recovery support on campus through direct partnership with the Collegiate Recovery Initiative and the department
  • Identifying key volunteers on campus to lead and champion the work

“This work on college campuses is coming at the perfect time.  We are so inspired to see a generation of young people that’s in tune with how they’re feeling and willing to speak about what they’re going through.  This work to break stigma and redefine the ‘college experience’ is going to have an amazing impact for decades to come,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.  “We’re so proud of Nathan’s work and grateful for the partners who have joined this effort on campuses all across this state.”

Colleges and Universities that pursue the certification will receive direct support in planning of events, hosting trainings, and connecting students with necessary recovery support needs.  They will receive access to resources including tools to aid in advocating for collegiate recovery, as well as videos on how to support students and videos specifically for students who are embarking on the recovery process.  The certification will facilitate connections between the campuses and state and community resources including community behavioral health providers, recovery support groups, and more.

“I see this certification process as the beginning of something big in our state. What starts with one campus will ripple to the next and eventually statewide, a unified effort that one day we can look back on and see the difference that can come from having a conversation, sustaining that conversation, and eliminating the stigma so that young adults feel truly free to reach out and receive support”, said Nathan Payne, Collegiate Recovery Initiative Director.

Learn more about the Collegiate Recovery Initiative and the Recovery-Friendly Campus certification process at this link: