About

About the blog:

A key component of social work includes social advocacy for diverse client populations. Social policy and legislation on the local, state and national level all impact mental health services that can be provided by social workers. Through this blog we hope to explore and expand our understanding of mental health policies and legislation, as well as its impact on the lives of people in the Austin community.

About us: 

Hello worldLiana & Gatuzo! My name is Liana and I am a first year Master’s student at the UT School of Social Work. I am originally from the Boston area and I graduated from Brandeis University in 2009 with a BA in Psychology and Italian Studies. During my 5-year hiatus from higher education, I worked primarily in the field of healthcare and psychiatry research. I have worked with children, adolescents and adults afflicted by mental illness such as ADHD, conduct disorder, depression and schizophrenia as well as neurological disorders like autism. I have worked with both inner city and rural populations in Boston, Massachusetts and Iowa City, Iowa.

I am currently enrolled in a class, Social Policy Analysis and Social Problems, which focuses on gaining a greater understanding of the American welfare system. This blog is one component of that educational experience. I have seen first-hand how mental health policies are important in determining the quality of life for those with mental illness. For example, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) services vary on a state-by-state level, and can greatly improve the lives of those from a low socioeconomic background. Therefore, I am excited to explore Texas and national mental health legislation through this blog, in order to better serve my clients in the future.

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Kathy & Thomas

Hello, blog visitors! My name is Kathy and I am currently a dual degree student enrolled at both the UT School of Social Work and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I was born and raised in the great city of New Orleans and attended college at Pepperdine University, where I earned a B.A. in advertising in 2006. Two years after Hurricane Katrina impressed her indelible marks along the Gulf coast, I began working as a program coordinator for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Young Adult Volunteer program. This position gave me the opportunity to participate in the recovery of the city and opened my eyes to the amazing ways partnerships and collaborations within the micro, mezzo, and macro levels can truly impact a community and the lives of individuals and families impacted by natural and human-made disasters.

All throughout my personal experiences — with disaster survivors, living in an urban environment, my Chinese-American culture, and as a Christian —  dialogue and education around mental health has largely been absent. Mental health is not typically a high priority for both civic and church leaders, even though mental health care is a critical component in our overall wellbeing. Working with Liana on this social policy blog provides a great opportunity for me to explore the ways our society (and our local leaders in particular) are addressing mental health and advocating for resources and policies that truly seek to enhance the lives of those whose mental health is often stigmatized and debilitating. I look forward to being challenged by this assignment and hope this experience will impact the ways I participate in the broader dialogue and efforts around mental heath and mental health care.

Thank you for your interest in our blog, and we hope you will participate along with us as we venture into the world of social policy and mental health. Your comments and encouragement are always appreciated! 

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