Field experiments in public health advance mental health awareness and well-being
For several years, students from the University of Hawaii at the Office of Public Health Studies in Mānoa (SSP) and mental health america Hawaii (MHAH) have benefited from their ongoing relationship to positively impact local communities through new approaches and research.
MHAH has been leading mental health education, advocacy, services and access to care for over 75 years, with a focus on improving the mental well-being of Hawaii‘s communities. SSP had six undergraduate students and one master’s student in public health placed at MHAH since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more since their pre-2017 partnership.
During their stay, the baccalaureate students conducted their applied learning experience (APPLE), which is designed for students to complete an independent, supervised applied learning project (100-120 hours), part of the undergraduate capstone experience in public health. Master’s students complete a 240-hour internship focused on a collaborative project in the chosen specialization.
“Being able to work with students keeps the learning curve cool for MHAH Personal. We discover new approaches and discuss ongoing research with students who will become providers and leaders in our community,” said Melissa Gass, MHAH program director. “The students each brought their knowledge, experience and interests to MHAH, allowing us to grow and learn. They continue to help us create more tools for our community every day. They also help expand our small staff and reach out to our community. We are able to have a greater impact through everything they do.
“Each of the students has been very reliable, consistent and has made our job easier. Students had the opportunity to expand their professional reach, network with potential future employers, as well as learn different skills and techniques around mental health resilience,” said Bryan L. Talisayan, MHAH executive Director. “An organization that provides learning opportunities always wins through the relationships created and the reciprocal nature of mentoring. What we hope for all of our students is that they gain a comprehensive experience that includes curriculum development, education, and advocacy.
Nicolas Bill Boncaronundergraduate student in public health, concentrated his APPLE college mental health project. Bongcaron strives to promote conversation and welcome the topic of mental health among students, who are trying to understand their careers while learning independence as adults. Bongcaron is currently with MHAH and was offered a permanent position once he completed his APPLE.
“It was my first internship, and I’m grateful to work with my team at MHAH. They really welcomed me even though I lacked experience and I hope I can continue to work with them,” said Bongcaron.
Rachel Yoshida is a Masters in Public Health (mph) student majoring in epidemiology. for her mph internship at MHAHYoshida is working to develop a statewide mental health assessment for Hawaii researching demographic information and questions, structuring a dissemination plan, and creating a budget for creating assessments and reviewing data. Yoshida hopes his internship will allow him MHAH to better understand mental health needs in the community and address gaps in care.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with passionate people with unique experiences who create incredible programs and seminars that deliver knowledge and information to the public to increase mental health awareness,” Yoshida said. . “Work with MHAH allowed me to be part of many exciting programs and learn what is being done in Hawaii to improve mental health care access and services.
Madeleine Alvarez recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health. She expressed that her time at MHAH was a place where she always felt heard and where she could freely communicate her ideas. His APPLE The project focused on integrating art and mental well-being for children. Alvarez has created a fun and easy art project to connect kids to the environment and nature.
“MHAH inspired me to pay attention to my personal mental wellness journey. I feel like being placed there really helped broaden my horizons for potential future careers. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this organization and look forward to using what I learned wherever I go in life,” Alvarez said.
The students agreed that having their APPLE at MHAH strengthened their general interest in public health and inspired them to continue to expand their knowledge so that they can make positive changes in Hawaiithe community.
The Office of Public Health Studies is located in the Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health.
If you or someone you know is having a crisis or needs treatment and recovery, call Hawaii CARE phone at (808) 832-3100 or toll-free at 1-800-753-6879. On July 16, 2022, an all-new three-digit dialing code (988) will be released. It will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please share this information with your loved ones.