BHWET Scholar Megan Camp makes a difference beyond the classroom

April 01, 2022 | Posted by Daphne Rivers

In a recent interview Megan, a current graduate student, Behavioral Health Workforce Education trainee (BHWET), graduate research assistant to the dean of Social Work, and a practicum student at SSM Health DePaul Hospital in their Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health division, shared with us why she aspires to be a social worker in the field of behavioral health.

SSW: So, tell us a little about yourself.

Megan: I am a first-generation college student in my last semester of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL). In addition to my work in the dean’s office, I am also a BHWET scholar finishing up my practicum at SSM Health DePaul Hospital with Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health.

SSW: Why is being a social worker important to you? Why focus on behavioral health?

Megan:  Seeing family and peers struggle with mental health, addiction, abuse, and violence was difficult to comprehend and navigate as a kid. Having been a witness to the resulting trauma and abuse, I am passionate and motivated to be a social worker in the mental health field because I know the difference we can make.

Many youth and teens lack positive support and guidance to understand the emotional and behavioral nuances of traumatic events and abuse. I want to be the social worker that holds a safe space for children and adolescents to explore their feelings and thoughts around trauma, abuse, mental illness, and gender/sexuality identity issues.

SSW: What has been the most challenging aspect of your practicum?

Megan: I have realized that facing the emotional drain that sometimes comes with the job when you are not able to solve every problem is what can be most challenging at times.

For example, there is a high need for therapy and psychiatry services for youth and teens, but a serious shortage of those services persists. There are long waitlists for therapy, psychiatry, residential treatment, intensive home services, and therapeutic foster homes. It is frustrating when you want to help but are limited by a scarcity of resources.

SSW: As a social worker in training, how do you cope with these challenges?

Megan: The first step is to realize that I cannot do it all. It is a difficult fact to accept, but very true. Fortunately, I am able to debrief and consult with my field supervisor and a task supervisor at SSM Health DePaul Hospital when dealing with some of the more distressing cases. I have been advised to encourage family therapy and to provide all the resources that I believe will benefit the client and family. Through current coursework and field training, I am actively learning how to mitigate vicarious traumatization before working in the field.

SSW: What are your future plans once you’ve completed your MSW degree and practicum?

Megan: I hope to continue my work with youth and adolescents in a behavioral health setting. I will be taking the test for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and working toward Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) certifications. This will allow me to have access to more clinical positions to provide mental health interventions to youth and teens.

SSW: What are you most proud of about your journey?

Megan: I am proud that I did not give up.

In high school, I did not think I was meant for college and wanted to drop out several times. Today, I am a first-generation college student graduating with my MSW this spring and I could not be any prouder of what I have been able to achieve.

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