Betsy -University of Rochester

Public Policy Associate

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was being a Public Policy Associate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through The Washington Center (TWC) for the fall 2018 semester. It has been such an amazing experience to have worked with such dedicated, inspiring, and caring individuals. As a psychology and bioethics double major, the skills and experience I gained through my internship will provide me with the ability to have another perspective on mental health and how to potentially integrate that into my future career as a clinical psychologist. AFSP has provided me the opportunity to solidify my decision in continuing a career path in mental health work.

The beginning of my internship involved going to many hearings on the Hill for an array of issues whether they be on mental health, suicide prevention, or the opioid crisis. We attended many events, with one of the most notable being the 10th Anniversary for Mental Health Parity. The event, which was hosted by Patrick Kennedy, went over the much celebrated passing of mental health parity which enforces insurers to provide full coverage for mental health and substance abuse services as they do for physical health. Another great event we attended was the Cohen’s Veteran Summit which granted us insight into the many resources that are available for veteran suicide prevention and the newest technology being innovated to prevent, diagnose, and treat health issues. Events like these have offered me the opportunity to network with other individuals in the industry and further expand the various career options I can undertake to continue my desire to work in the mental health field.

The other responsibilities I held included tracking bills for certain committees, attending hearings and various other mental health related events, working on issue briefs, and other tasks for the wonderful staff. The correctional facilities brief was a very interesting task for me as it was a mixture of the two things I love most: research and writing. The topic itself was challenging at times given the few recent studies, however, it shed light on an issue that needs to be brought up to the forefront. I plan on continuing to advocate for this issue even when outside of AFSP. I also had the opportunity to work on the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) brief. I was able to see firsthand just how many meetings and frequent edits had to be undertaken in order to finalize a formal statement

This entire experience with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has shown me that not only is policy work really interesting, but that it is much more than just lobbying. It involves hours if not days of research, meetings, and revisions to get to the final piece of legislation that will benefit the country as a whole. Working alongside Taylor, Natalie, Chelsey, Connor, Nicole, and John (along with my co-intern Kara) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am eternally grateful for being able to partake in this wonderful experience with such amazing people!