I am currently employed full time as a mental health case manager at Pathways Behavioral Health Services in Milan, TN. A case manager monitors clients who come to our facility for individual psychotherapy and/or medication. We have two purposes. One is to be a liaison between the therapists, medication providers and clients. We make sure clients know the dates of their appointments, take their meds correctly and have transportation to our facility. The other purpose is to be a link to resources in the clients’ communities. We make sure they have stable housing, income, food, clothes, etc. We try to make sure living with a mental illness is as smooth as possible for our clients, and do all we can to prevent clients from having to me admitted into psychiatric hospitals due to their illnesses. I work with clients of all ages with all types of mental disorders. I am one of three case managers, and I work alongside eight therapists and two nurse practitioners. My future goals include attending graduate school – I’m applying for Fall 2016 for the Master's in Social Work degree at UTK. Once I get my masters in social work I’ll be able to practice as a non-licensed therapist until I achieve enough field hours to sit for the licensure exam to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Earning the title LCSW allows me to provide therapy to all types of individuals with mental illness, while also learning more about advocacy and ethics.
Mainly the material I learned while in the psychology program helped me transition so well into this job. When I deal with each client I try to understand what mental illness they have, and how it affects their daily life. I actually have my notes from abnormal psychology in my office to reference when I’m looking back on certain symptoms and certain disorders. Also, doing the mock interviews in senior seminar really helped me nail my interview for this job, and interviewing former psychology majors helped me see what types of jobs and graduate programs we can go into. My advisor Michelle Merwin really helped me along the way with trying to figure out where in the field of behavioral health I fit. Also, looking back at the workload you get in each class, especially the upper division classes, it prepared me to be able to do my job. I monitor about 30 people on my caseload, meaning I have to keep up with 30 names, disorders, appointments, jobs, addresses, families, etc. Organization and efficiency are two huge things I learned while in the UTM psychology program.
I could literally write a book of advice for psychology majors, but I’ll list the most important. 1) DEFINITELY BECOME A PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR. 2) You can get so many different jobs with a degree in psychology – not just in mental health. 3) Get involved as much as you can, and get close to your professors – you’ll need good letters of recommendation one day, plus you will get the most out of the program that way. I regret not getting more deeply involved in research, and not job shadowing while in college so I knew what actual jobs in psychology were like. 4) Many psychology majors question why they became a psychology major, but stick with it and you’ll be so glad you did. Going into psychology was the best decision I ever made, because I found my passion in life. Mental health is an ever changing field and it needs caring, passionate, intelligent college graduates to help individuals find treatments and help make living with mental illness a little easier. 5) Take some time off once you graduate – there are plenty of jobs someone with a Bachelor's in Psychology can get. Work in the field a while and talk to others in jobs you want. This gives you an idea of what you need to do next, whether it be more schooling or more work experience. I’ve worked in the field for almost a year now, and it has taken me that long to put together a solid plan for graduate school. Let yourself de-stress from school and experience “the real world” before you have to make more hard decisions!