Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA

A Letter to an Intern

Here are tips that may help future interns performing their field placement at the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania:

Mix and Mingle:

Immerse yourself and socialize with the members of the Mental Health Association. Genuinely socialize and get to know the members by name. Try not to come down to the drop-in center just to be seen, or sit off by yourself. Be real, respectful, sensitive, non-judgmental, and polite toward members. You will be surprised how much we all have in common with each other.

If you build up a barrier between yourself and MHA members, members will sense your resistance and may feel uncomfortable around you.

Be Tactful, Tasteful, and Respectful:

The Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania is a highly-regarded agency. You do not have to come to work in a ball gown or tux. However, professional decorum should be practiced.

You are representing your college, your majorís program, your graduating class, your collegiate advisors, the social agency where you are conducting your field placement, the agencyís volunteer program and the interns who have performed their field placement and have yet to perform their field placement at the Mental Health Association. The way you present yourself often yields the way you will be treated within your work environment so please be mindful of your attire and personality.

Do You Know Who You Work For?

Indeed, you are an intern from a college. Yet, the duties you fulfill and the responsibilities you are given while at the Mental Health Association are very, very important to the progress of the agency. The Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania is just as its name states; a member of a large constituency within Pennsylvania.

You work for the consumers. Your work effects a very uniquely important population.

While performing your hours here, you will get a glimpse of the magnitude at which the Mental Health Association works in partnership with roughly every other social service agency in the county of Erie (e.g. Stairways Behavioral, Safe Harbor, Lodge on Sass, Gaudenzia, SafeNet).

What Does That Stand For?

If you have not already, you will come to know and understand the importance of peer-based practice, NAMI, SAMHSA, CFST, ECCMHC,Consumer/Family Satisfaction, MHANJ, NIDA, Consumer Concern Report, Ask-Tell-Go, PMHCA, DSM, EBP, Home Team, AA, NA, DRA, PWAT, WSH, PAV, MHAmerica, SSI/SSDI (they are not the same), SA, dual-diagnosis, WRAP, ROSI, ADA, CSP, co-occurring disorders, Housing First, CPS, PAD, MHMR, HANDS, HOME Team, and other neat acronyms you will come across while working here. Do a service to yourself and research these items. Jot down a few notes so you are not totally perplexed when reading an organizational document.

It would be very smart to submerse yourself within mental health culture. Some of the strongest and most passionate activism and advocacy is performed on behalf of the consumers you will be working with.

Itís a Great Place:

Have fun. Get your assignments completed on time. Be yourself.

The more your agency supervisors know about your academic obligations, the easier your assignments will be completed.

Ask for help when you need it. There is always something to do at the MHA. Rita Wheeler, the volunteer director and program coordinator, will make sure you always have something to do.

Sincerely,

An Intern

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