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Written by: Julia Diskin

As an incoming junior studying psychology at Michigan State University, I had no idea what to expect when I got the call that I would be Kadima’s 2021 JVS JOIN intern. Kadima was my number one choice, and I was ecstatic that they had chosen me. There is no short way to explain how much I have learned and grown in the eight weeks I worked at Kadima, and no words to explain how invaluable my experience was.

It has become almost a cliche to “break the stigma” but it is more apparent than ever how important it is to destigmatize chronic, severe mental illness. Media portrays people with mental health challenges in the most incorrect way possible. Coming into my internship, I was nervous about interacting with the people served. In reality, individuals with mental health challenges are incredible, smart, resilient people who have been through more than we’ll ever know or understand. Just like everyone else, they too have a story. They are creative, funny, and genuine.

I went into this internship with the mindset of keeping judgement or bias out of my work. I kept this attitude at the forefront of my mind when interacting with the people served, and this open-minded attitude allowed me to make life-long connections. I can wholeheartedly say that Kadima changed my life in the best way possible, and I wish everyone had the chance to get to know the wonderful people at Kadima.

Because of the pandemic, my internship was hybrid, but I believe that this allowed me to have the most diverse experience. I was able to work with many different staff members. I got to work alongside the social worker, Elaine Kahn, who doubled as my wonderful supervisor. With Elaine I was able to observe therapy and facilitate support groups. She also trained me in skills that I will take with me moving forward in my career and personal life.

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I also got to work with the Creative Expressions program as well as the activity center, which is transitioning into a Clubhouse, once it opened back up for in-person programming in July. Being a part of the activity center was one of my favorite parts. I got to cook with people, do art, sing karaoke, and just get to know the people served by Kadima for who they are.

I was also able to do some work with the nurse and assist in administrative tasks. By the end of my internship I had a well-rounded idea of what it is like to work at a nonprofit agency such as Kadima. I will always be thankful for JOIN for placing me at such an impactful agency.