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Learning Center Experience
By Cheryl Bradt-Hyland, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Assistant Department Chair
As far back
as I can recall I knew I wanted to make a difference, so choosing to work in
the human service field was both a logical and natural fit.
Prior to obtaining my degree my experiences had been
primarily with children and families and, like many of our Kaplan University human service
students, my plan
was to continue on this path after graduation. All of this changed when I was
placed in an internship with a non-profit organization that served people with
mental illness and people with the dual diagnosis of mental illness and
substance abuse. I knew little about this population and I was apprehensive that
the placement was not in alignment with my goals. This was not at all what I had envisioned. Who
could have known that this placement would ignite a passion and commitment that
would become my focus and career for more years than any of my previous causes?
the communal area of the day room, I witnessed tremendous courage and tenacity
through even the most dire events and circumstances. I observed the magnitude and impact of what
for many was a daily struggle with mental illness. Working with participants in
groups, I learned the true meaning of resiliency and was inspired by the hope
that was shared among members. Each day I witnessed and learned through those who
I worked with that recovery is both possible and a reality.
continues to be a high need population that is often overlooked and
underserved. Many still do not have access to services and/or services are disjointed
with multiple barriers. Sadly, prisons often serve as the mental health system
and house those who are in need of intervention and treatment. With increased
focus on public safety, there is a great deal of stigma, erroneous information,
and misconceptions. Many do not realize that a person with mental illness is
far more likely to be a victim than perpetrator of a violent crime.
years, there have been numerous changes in the implementation of how services
and treatment are provided. Efforts continue to provide integrated,
rehabilitative services that are strength-based, “one-stop shop,” and consumer
friendly. There have also been some
significant breakthroughs and improvements with medications. With the advent of
mental health and drug courts, linkage to community based treatment and housing
is more accessible. All of this has enhanced and improved the quality of life
for many individuals, but there is still much work to be done and we still have
a long way to go.
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