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When Mental Health & Public Health Collide

The changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on lives and society as a whole have been insurmountable to maintaining daily life in some aspects. As a Master of Public Health (MPH) student through online studies, there were not many significant changes on that end luckily. Aside from the remote learning being the norm, this pandemic has shaped a great deal of the ideals of students in the program; myself included, as to what actually happens in the public health world during a public health emergency. There was plenty of discussion in my courses on not only how we were feeling amongst this all, but what we, as soon to be Public Health Professionals, were learning as the world was unfolding in ways we had never seen before. Student’s internships were transformed and critical in doing so to accommodate the needs of public health efforts moving forward although with maintaining safety precautions. This pandemic has made me aware of how necessary programs, services, and access to care are even more so than before. Seeing it unfold specifically in the mental health world was another layer of learning for me.

As this transformation took place, the work with Pinnacle Partnerships changed to focus on part of their mission that is even more evident now. Family engagement became an even stronger focal point, and rightfully so as we hunker down and spend quality, needed, sometimes irritating abundance of time together during stay-at-home orders and closings of schools. What better way to provide education, support, and access to families who are experiencing significant changes in their routines and realizing different ways their children learn and cope during these challenging times.

As schools closed their doors for the school year, the ability of Kristi and Dahyana, the Co-Founders of Pinnacle Partnerships had unwavering determination to continue their mission and goals of their business switched avenues to do so. Moving to a strictly online platform, Pinnacle Partnerships took this change and utilized the online framework to reach out, connect, and provide education and support in every direction during these times. Their mission of supporting schools in navigating children’s mental health challenges along with family and community engagement didn’t change, they just found a new way to support and engage the education and parental community.

During this internship I was exposed to how to physically engage with schools and provide resources for education, support, and plans to help manage children’s mental health along with families. The shift in ability to continue these efforts support the reasons why I wanted to join Pinnacle as an intern. I am specifically interested in access to quality care relating to health overall, although I am especially interested in mental health. I was able to see firsthand how the transition to providing access to care and continuing to provide quality was implemented. The online workshops and e-books that have been created from this current pandemic show how dedication and passion can result into strategic resourcefulness towards their mission. People who may not have been able to physically attend workshops in the past are now able to do so in the comforts of their home while learning and engaging with other like-minded educators, parents, and individuals. While schools are on hold for physically present education; this time can allow educators to hone in on what is important at this time. Along with continued education, educators can support their students and gain insight into how they can best approach supporting and connecting with those who especially now may be experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms.

As learning progresses within the home, engagement with families is more important as ever. Families are experiencing the ins and outs of their children’s school work, attempting to maintain routine and provide structure, and learning and managing their children’s mental health needs that may have not been as apparent before, or in different and perhaps more challenging ways. Connecting educators with families and finding how best to communicate, incorporate their needs, create strong partnerships, and provide support are benefits of engagement that will help children/students manage these times. Through a public health emergency, I have been able to see how vital access to quality care is and how the public health framework can accommodate the needs of individuals, families, and communities.

Here is a resource related to families, COVID-19 and added support during this time to help manage children’s health.

Of all the times to have in internship in Public Health with a concentration in mental health, this was quite timely. Mental health is part of public health. The importance of infusing family forward interventions, information, and resources has never been more important.

Stay #TogetherApart, be well, and support each other.

Emily is a compassionate, determined person driven to help with a personal and broad approach. Having worked in the mental health field for the last seven years, Emily will be graduating with a Master in Public Health in May.

She is looking forward to switching her focus to a behind the scenes approach in the mental health field. She is especially interested in program planning and access and quality of care. Emily has joined with Pinnacle Partnerships as an intern to develop experience in the mental health field from a community wide perspective.

Emily recognizes that Pinnacle Partnerships is addressing key aspects of access to care and education within the mental health field.

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