A Wealth of Mental Health

My summer internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health has been very beneficial to my career exploration. After undergoing risk and abuse training, I was able to actually conduct interviews with the participants (the children and their guardians) for the study. This training and personal interaction exposed me to different issues that I will likely continue to encounter if I pursue a degree in the mental health field. Working in the lab has also given me a greater feel for child psychology, specifically, because it is a youth mental health lab. As I am undecided about what I would like to specialize in, this was also an important element of exploring my potential career interests. Further, working in a lab with many Ph.D. fellows, as well as other young adults applying for different Ph.D. programs, has really forced me to think about what degree I need to earn to pursue the path I hope to in the field of Clinical Psychology.

Over the course of the summer, my career goals have remained relatively the same. I am still undecided about what exactly I plan on doing post graduation, but I still feel passionately about mental health. However, working at the lab has definitely influenced my perception of the importance of graduate school and my feelings about research. The lab gave me more responsibilities this summer, which opened my eyes to a lot of the different elements of research. I tend to prefer interacting with people over working with data and having that opportunity this summer was very positive for me. I have gained a deeper appreciation for research through learning about the different elements that go into it. I could see myself taking a year or two after graduation now to work in a research lab which initially was not part of my plan.

The biggest learning moment for me at my internship occurred during a phone interview. I cannot go into specifics, because of confidentiality reasons, but I think I have gained a lot of perspective about the separation necessary from work and home when working in a mental health environment. Finding that balance is important in any industry, but it is definitely an essential in the field of mental health.

Written by Abigail Weber, BC Class of 2017

Forming a Foundation

Boston College has provided me with an eye-opening opportunity to challenge social injustices within my community and to dive deeper into some of the root factors that solidify such patterns. One of these root causes, that I in particular have a deep passion for, is mental health. Both in my studies at Boston College, as an Applied Psychology and Human Development major, and through my summer internship working at the Weisz Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health, I am able to learn how these issues influence families and children and will start to develop a foundation on which I can hopefully become a contributor to change and awareness within this field.

Many of the classes I have taken at Boston College focus on issues incredibly relevant to this internship. With a background in child development, abnormal psychology and the familial/environmental influences that contribute to children’s mental health, I have a strong base on which to begin acting against the development of mental health issues in children. Having learned about the development of mental illness in youth, I feel much more prepared to interact with participants in the studies at my lab.

My volunteer experiences through 4Boston, at a K-8 school in a local community, have also had an important impact on my formation of a foundation working with youth. This particular school has a high density of lower income children who tend to have a vast amount of stressors in their daily lives. As I learned in my classes at Boston College, the likelihood for a child to develop issues with mental health increases as their number of risk factors increases. Many of the children who are participating in the studies through my lab face similar stressors and traumas. My exposure to the lives of these children already has been incredibly humbling in my own life.

The knowledge I obtained through my classwork as well as my firsthand experiences with kids, undergoing similar circumstances to the children in my study, has helped to prepare me for the work at my internship. I think that learning through classes as well as personal interaction is a strong combination for me to start developing the skills necessary to succeed in this field, and I believe that this internship will continue to help me develop these skills.

Written by Abigail Weber, BC Class of 2017