The opportunity to work alongside individuals with severe and persistent mental illness has taught me so much not only about myself as a social worker in the making, but about the policies surrounding financial assistance like disability and medicare/medicaid and about the stigma surrounding mental health. Through this internship I have developed key social work skills as I advocate on behalf of my clients, teach essential social/interpersonal, independent living, and emotion regulation skills, and perform rigorous research on mental health.
What I wish was different
My only hesitation with accepting this position has been the 35-50 minute commute from my school and home in Athens to the clinic in Walton County, Monroe. While this commute can be tiring, it is well worth the experience!
While it is important to understand mental health as it is characterized by the DSM, it is essential to understand that your clients are ultimately people who are just like you but facing different circumstances. I went into this internship as one of the many Americans who stigmatizes mental health, but I have grown to recognize the dignity and worth of my clients and the mental health crisis that America is leaving mostly untreated.