Working at Mental Health Minnesota has reaffirmed my passion for the mental health field. Whether I am working in research, the nonprofit world, or in a hospital, I want to contribute to the field.
How did you become interested in public health? [Katrina] Originally, I thought I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, but after the pandemic I had a change of heart. I have always been passionate about mental health, but I didn’t see myself as a clinician anymore. While working as a clinical research coordinator at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, I realized that I could still make an impact on mental health by going into the public health field. Many of my patients had several mental health conditions that they struggled with and they expressed that the pandemic exacerbated them.
Why did you choose to come to the U of M School of Public Health? [Katrina] I chose the U of M to pursue my public health degree for a variety of reasons. The first being, my husband was already a graduate student at the U. Next, I saw that I could use the Regents Scholarship to fund my degree since I was an employee of the U. Finally, I knew the program was nationally ranked and had a friend who recently completed the program and loved it!
Where are you completing your Applied Practice experience, and who is your preceptor?
[Katrina] I did my APEX at Mental Health Minnesota. They are a nonprofit affiliated with Mental Health America, focused on advancing mental health and well being for all, increasing mental health treatment and services, and providing education, resources, and support across Minnesota. My preceptor was Executive Director Shannah Mulvihill who has worked in the non-profit and public sectors for over 20 years.
Why did you choose that site? [Katrina] I knew I wanted to have a mental health focused applied practice experience. All my previous experience has been in academic institutions and hospitals, and I wanted to gain experience in the nonprofit world. I reached out to Shannah to inquire if they were willing to take on an intern and thankfully they were and brought me on board!
What are you focused on for your Applied Practice experience? [Katrina] My preceptor, Shannah, wanted to focus on creating relationships between primary care providers and Mental Health Minnesota. So, my role was to help make primary care providers in Minnesota aware of the resources available at Mental Health Minnesota. By educating clinicians, they can offer better resources to their patients. I created multiple websites and flyers outlining the resources that are available to clinicians and education for patients about common mental health conditions.
What impact do you hope your product will have on public health? [Katrina] I’m really hoping that people who visit my websites feel less stigma surrounding their own mental health conditions. I also want them to know that they are not alone and that there are a variety of treatment options and resources to help them manage their condition. The overall goal of the websites is to instill hope for patients and help decrease the burden on primary care providers.
What have you learned through your Applied Practice experience? [Katrina] I learned taking baby steps can really help you accomplish big goals. As public health professionals, we are tackling huge issues like racism, homelessness, and infectious diseases, which can be quite intimidating. How do we solve these very complicated, and often interconnected, issues? It is much easier to break down the issues into smaller actionable steps and make differences along the way to solving the main public health issue.
Has your Applied Practice experience influenced your next steps in your public health career? [Katrina] Working at Mental Health Minnesota has reaffirmed my passion for the mental health field. Whether I am working in research, the nonprofit world, or in a hospital, I want to contribute to the field. Mental health is a public health issue and I’m ready to make a difference!