Charlotte began her work with Kadima in January of 2014 as a social work intern and has served in various roles since, including clinical work, volunteer coordination and then in her current role as Intake and Quality Assurance and Compliance Coordinator, coordinating residential services and overseeing audits to ensure compliance for billing and administrative tasks. She also is a Mental Health First Aid trainer.
Written By: Charlotte Sandy
When I was an undergrad, I was a psych major, and I knew I wanted to go into psychology or social work. I interned at a college counseling center in another state and my experience there is what solidified my passion.
At the counseling center, I was assigned to a client everyone told me I wouldn’t really want to work with but they thought I would “be able to handle.” I started doing individual therapy with a girl who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and I fell in love with working with this girl and this particular population. But I also saw the stigma that was attached to those who live with severe and persistent mental illness, even within a mental health setting.
It was surprising that a place like a college counseling center, where they wanted to treat anxiety and depression still was unwilling to address serious issues like schizophrenia and other challenges things that are severely debilitating for clients. It opened my eyes to the stigma that exists even in some areas of the mental health community about these very scary sounding diagnoses. But when you meet with people who have these illnesses, they are not scary people. That’s what drew me to Kadima.
I found Kadima through the University of Michigan School of Social Work. I had the best experience at Kadima and entered the organization at a very exciting time when our new leadership was just being put into place. As the agency was growing and evolving, I got the sense that I was involved in something a lot bigger than myself. It was amazing to see all the exciting changes being made, so when I was offered a position, I was elated because of how much I love Kadima. I wanted the job as much for the clients as I did for myself because I love the clients at Kadima. They are what drive me.
Because I’ve worked in a variety of areas at Kadima, I have a wide view of the agency and one thing I think I’ve gotten out of my few years of being here is there’s a lot of exciting energy and new things on the horizon, and there’s a lot of hope not only for people coping with mental health challenges but for the agency as a whole.
Reducing stigma and giving people the dignity and respect they deserve is what we have to offer to our clients. When I was an intern at the college counseling center, that’s something that was lacking. Now I’m at an agency that values everyone regardless of their symptoms. We were founded on the values of dignity and respect: of treating people with mental health challenges like they are people, without stigma, just people.