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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

South Florida: Interdisciplinary Efforts to Train Mental Health Leaders of Tomorrow

University of South Florida graduate student Sarah Lokey said she was looking for a degree program to address population health, while also keeping individual perspectives in mind.

She decided to earn a dual master’s degree in public health and social work from USF’s College of Public Health (COPH) and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS).

BH Student
[Photo: Behavioral Health Student Organization]

She takes classes with faculty from both the CBCS and COPH, an asset she said will add to her ability to work in preventive health care when she graduates in 2017 with her MSW and MPH degree.

“Earning an MSW in addition to the MPH was great because it taught me how to talk to people and about cultural competence, putting me in the field to gain an individualist perspective,” she said. “I think that’s important so you can be more passionate about helping at the population level.”

Lokey said she hopes her dual degree experience will allow her to one day address diabetes among populations, as well as the co-morbidities associated with it.

“I want to look at how depression and psychosocial factors contribute to diabetes management,” she said. “I don’t think people put enough emphasis on the importance of mental health, it’s still such a taboo subject. I hope that people realize that mental health issues can affect anyone, it could be you, your sister, your mother,” she said.

Public health practitioners should know something about mental health, according to associate professor Dr. Bruce Levin.

Dr. Levin, a joint faculty member in the CBCS and COPH, said there are a variety of programs to aid in that effort.

“We’re proudly one of the unique universities in the U.S. that has quite a concentration of focus areas and opportunities for students to specialize within a public health degree in behavioral health,” he said. “We’re still only one of two that has opportunities to specialize in behavioral health within an accredited college of public health.”

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